June 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
There was one day, last Christmas, we drove up the mountains and parked beside this big forest. The trees loomed over us like giants and there was still snow melting on the moss. We plodded slowly along the path that curved through the trees. It was cold and we were in no hurry. We had our fill of turkey sandwiches and stuffing before we left the house. I had some hot whiskey in a flask tucked in my bag for when we got to the top but he didn’t know that. Our breath left our mouths in thick clouds of white that spun into the air, evaporating into nothingness. My nose glowed bright pink.
He reached out his hand for mine half way up. He didn’t turn but just stretched his arm backwards, wiggling his fingers as an indication for me to grab hold. I looked at it for a moment, his blue gloveless hand, before accepting the offer with my own ungloved hand. We had both lost our gloves in the pub on Christmas Eve, a little tradition of ours- both the celebratory drinks and the loosing things. No matter how hard we tried not to, we always left the pub a little lighter early Christmas morning every year.
We passed families with dogs and kids and grandparents. Everyone was rosy cheeked and covered in dyed wool. We nodded politely at them, as if saying “well done to you” and as they nodded back you would feel a small sense of accomplishment. Yes, well done me. I could be sitting on the couch filling my mouth with layer upon layer of Milk Tray but instead I am out here, being part of it. I don’t know what I thought exactly that I was a part of. Living, probably. Which is ironic because that Christmas was the one when I felt most like something had died inside me, inside my life, inside us.
It took us about an hour to reach the top. There was a couple of stops to tie laces or look very closely at berries, wondering if they were edible but finally deciding to not eat any just in case. We hardly spoke. Our hands held together limply, almost a becoming a burden to the other. We stood at the top and took a second to get our breath back. He bent down to lean his hands on his knees as I pulled off my hat to feel the frosty breeze on my forehead.
We stayed silent as we looked down towards the city. It was completely still, as though everyone had abandoned it to climb the surrounding mountains and we were all now looking down on it all together and thinking about how quiet it looked. It made me feel tiny. I looked down at the huge expanse of buildings and houses and hated myself for not seeing that there is so much more to this world than my pathetic little life. If I really wanted I could go and find something else, someone else. There was so much world but just one tiny me. Why hadn’t I seen it before?
I looked over at him. He was staring down at the silent buildings too, shining in the mid afternoon sun. A small smile had formed on the corners of his lips. I knew he was thinking of her. He was wondering where she was in the quiet city and loving her as much as he could. He was wishing she was with him, up here, on top of the world.