31 March 2011

Be careful what you wish for

This is the technicolour tourist version of my street, on one of the handful of days when the sky is blue and dry and the wind moves only as fast as a cat brushing past my ankles.

Not like the days when the wind from the moors darts its way to the sea through many fingered lanes, and turns the planes of my face to cold metal edges. It does not speak of the weariness inside my elbows from carrying too many shopping bags at once, to save having to make a second, a third trip back to the top of the hill where a car can be parked. In the winter storms, we can be cut off for days on end, safe from the lashing waves behind our thick stone walls, but the windows rattle and I pile old blankets against them, mostly in vain as the drafts will always send their tendrils through to find me. 

Not to mention the icy days, the foggy icy days when to step out is always to risk being whisked to down to the sea wall, bumping over the cobbles.

I first saw this place on a balmy blue day, and had no understanding of its changeable nature in the face of the weather. The streets were full of tourists milling around, looking in windows where people lived. I felt the intrusion and I longed to be here when they were not, to feel the rhythms of a normal life, to call out to the other residents and exchange snippets of gossip, opaque to the visitors. To be a regular in the tiny pub, with its copper surfaced bar, and have the gruff but good natured bearded barman ask if I wanted the usual. 

I am part of the tourist trade now, I searched to find a way to be more involved in this place, and I put my name down for a cottage. The interview went fine, although I was asked to stop dying my hair, as they felt a grey haired lady would be more authentic. I signed a contract for two years to live as a local, and I look at this damn picture every day, every day and count the number of days that are really like the tourist dream. Not quite on one hand. And I count down the days until I can leave

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