I could believe we are stationary; it’s only everything out there kindly hurtling passed – the grey verticals of Manchester revealed as bars of a song. I could coke my ear to catch cirrus chit-chat then touch down at Stockport and watch the parked cars kiss in tidy rows which reminds me to sort my manners out, to raise a hand to waving trees whizzing backwards, plastic bags in their branches brilliant flags announcing carnival hosted by scarecrows a-yonder.
I could trill like a starling myself, bless everything outside and within this case of human fireworks – the silver chained lads probing Burger King bags, the lucky dips; the tannoy woman who is Our Lady, surely, with a mobile altar of Ribena and Coke; serving the men in business suits with Guardians hiding a copy of Heat magazine.
I realise that destinations doesn’t exist, they are just invented for convention of our arrival, the mountains plugged in, the rivers laid down, the smiles carved in streams, the random pebbles of happiness. I see a queue of people come and go, waiting to use the washroom: burly men in chequered shirts, students posturing, biros and big laptop screens, gentle women with different kind of walks, children; all the clutter that dashes or repairs younger dreams, that bring gloom or hope for that station platform swaying above the tracks.
The train and I slide steadily forward in the oblivion of the world, unattached, I look for someone I once remembered, someone that I can picture, whose name eludes me, but in a flash I see you there sitting in the station café, coughing your lungs out, above the latte as you eyed up the waitress, I tried to gain your attention, but not today, not at this table, this dream, this moment in time slipping away, in tidal fashion.
Once you had my attention. As a child you were always chasing the next adventure, the next climb, the next fall out of the tree, afraid that by standing still for too long you might vanish into the thin air. Years older you’d refuse believe you’d ever disappear, refusing to touch your own mortality, cancer, and anything remotely suggesting prospect of dying would be shrugged off like an unpaid bill, that you would evade somehow. Death, being a bad debt letter, you’d prefer to ignore. Till it came knocking at your door.
These ghosts of time continue to unravel, the story gets told again and again, we start conversing over the past. I didn’t understand you walking away from a well-carved life in the place of the known, the land down under. The land of opportunity, for the lucky ones, but you saw only irony, you saw shadows, and those living in them. But you didn’t find freedom, you were too busy fighting, dreaming the spirits back into being, too much to care. Freedom only came later, like the slowly burning embers by the fireside.
Where is this freedom now? Freedom to believe, to roam, like a Gypsy, with these spirits playing themselves out, an indigenous man, but with white skin, now dreaming his story back into existence, into being, searching for his own celtic connections, this ancient cross, these byways back to this land. This slow shunting though Hope Valley.
In just a moment we reach our destination: Hathersage, where the gates of heaven awaits, as we disembark, the sun on our skin, the looming hills, the clouds shining so brightly that we stopped and cannot look away. And then it dawns on me, you were me, and I was what you became, that in the camp fires of the heart, those rainy days in the park and those lonely nights under the stars, I never left you. I was here all along.