Girl Half Empty

//What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in//
- Simone de Beauvoir
/June winner of the diary competition/


18. //Oh fill my past with regret, Wrap my present in brown paper, Fill my future with promises that promise to come later//

July 3rd

I am hungry for the coast where the Chanel meets the Atlantic. Sometimes I wonder if my inexhaustible thirst is so relentless because it can only be quenched with the tide at Treyarnon Bay. But I cannot go back to Cornwall unless I can go back in time. My childhood lives there. Little pocket-book ghosts await my return on spring beaches.

Riding trains never fails to make me thoughtful but riding them backwards on the way home with folky guitars drifting in from my headphones is certain to transform me into a gutter-full of trashy philosophy. I have never felt anything quite like I felt today while a railway line reversed me back home and the windows were shot full of bird shit.
I realised why travelling alone makes me feel so desperately sad.

Flying by plane is detachment but anything that remains in contact with the ground becomes personal; each millisecond of cross-country gives you another place to fail to experience. Travelling alone turns me into to puddles of longing which evaporate the longer I wait upon them; I long to own more experiences than I have been dished out.
It hits me that I never will. I will never taste the dust of Australia, I will never follow that footpath, I will never be the Victorian girls who attended that Victorian school, I will never be the wise man playing pétanque on the sandpit of a village square, I will never make needles from Buffalo bones and believe that the grass has a spirit, and I will never herd goats in bygone Bavaria, or even be a kid who knew what a shilling was like to admire.

And it’s helpless and its hopeless and its stupid and its selfish but I kind of feel like I haven’t done the world justice if I haven’t watched a feather on the Clyde or the sun burn out like a cigarette stubbed on the Himalayas. 

More than this – more than anything – though, travelling alone makes me mourn the experiences I have had that I will never again get back and the experiences I am having that I will one day hold funerals for. I will never again have a nosebleed in an indoor play area in a service station in Essex. I will never again see the playground wall as an enemy of magnitude, I will never again climb the blistering mounds of coastal path that I once dragged myself up, and I will never again wear my old jelly shoes on Rustington beach.

So much is irredeemable and my greed cannot be satisfied by knowing that I had these things once upon a time. It wants to hold them forever. It wants the past to be souvenirs not taster samples. I don’t care for clothes and cars and computerised machines but when it comes to memories I’m the most materialistic human on the planet.

I learnt this while travelling alone today. I learnt that I can never stop indulging my weakness and neither can I ever forgive it. I am a hoarder who hates her tendencies and her nostalgia. I hate looking back on the things – the happy and the sad – that I don’t retrieve. They are not shells to line up on my shelves or postcards to hang on my walls. They are lost boys who don’t remember their creators. They are sun on clouds and water in hands. Fickle.

Whoever said nostalgia was happy should tell me where they bought their rose-tinted glasses.

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