Inspired Escapism

 

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Contents

Heartbled And Soulrisen
At an airport

"She may have armed her horsemen but no-one burns bridges like I do, so I raise a silent toast to her apocalypse and hope she spends her thirty pieces of silver on something that matters more to her than I ever did."

- - - - -

The Mariana Trench And Everest
On a boat

"They say you aren’t supposed to be able to die in dreams, but I did. Every night I drowned in my dreams and every day I drowned in reality."

- - - - -

What Did You Expect From Drugs and Holidays?
In the middle of nowhere

"I witnessed this shift from one world to another through tears and tinted lenses, wishing I was beyond my burdens and imagining them trailing by a rope behind the car and breaking into pieces on the road."

 

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Heartbled And Soulrisen

I think an airport is the only place where it’s socially acceptable to drink at seven o’clock on a Tuesday morning. Not that I usually drink anywhere at seven o’clock on any morning, or ever really. My yearly alcohol consumption comes in somewhere around the suggested limit for one week but this feels like a good place to do something I wouldn’t normally do. Besides, it’s easy to be someone else in an airport. Or to be no-one at all.
 
It feels like airports are where the most intense of emotions happen, with all the leaving and arriving, tearing apart and reuniting. They create the ultimate transitory environment because everyone and everything is constantly moving. There's a charge in the air from all the spilled experience, from the incredible juxtaposition of order and chaos. The façade of organisation wraps thin around the buzz of pure humanness, people rushing and crying and searching and escaping. It's the sense of contradiction that makes an airport so enticing and that makes ordering a double vodka at seven o’clock on a Tuesday morning feel like an entirely appropriate thing to do.
 
I’m not sure exactly what led me to this point, to where I genuinely consider everything that came before to be my past life. It would be easy to blame the drugs. I lost a lot of weight and I lost a lot of time and I guess I should regret the white knuckle rides and white lines. But it didn't almost kill me and there's no big story of tumultuous recovery, just a conscious change of circumstances. It really was that easy to leave it all behind. Pale ghost, old friend, absent lover. Long gone are the days when I would move mountains for a fleeting high.
 
It would be almost as easy to blame her, my precious Judas, my betrayer. If I’d kept a list of every lie that slithered from her lips, I'd have run out of ink long before she ran out of dishonesty. But there were no curses cast at midnight nor wrists burned over ritual flame, only memories bound in white thread by a south-facing window at daybreak. She may have armed her horsemen but no-one burns bridges like I do, so I raise a silent toast to her apocalypse and hope she spends her thirty pieces of silver on something that matters more to her than I ever did. There never was blood on my hands and Neptune’s oceans still run clean.
 
It could have been the time I almost drowned, or at least almost tried to, that finally made me realise something needed to change. I did not see it coming. I’d walked an unfamiliar path and sought out shade and soft fallen needles. Then I’d waded into deep, clear water with stones and glass worn smooth, blue to pull me through and under. All I could think about was how many times I had counted measured moments and well-rehearsed movements and how much easier it would be to finally relinquish control. I swam until my arms ached but just when I was ready to let stillness take me, I realised I had left something behind, or let it go, or lost myself. I made it back to shore in seconds, or eons, elated and shivering.
 
In the time between feeling the pull of the unknown and actually buying the ticket, there was him, my Janus, my god of beginnings and endings and transitions, with always the best of intentions and the worst of actions. I had already decided to leave and although I never meant to leave him specifically, he simply became part of what I needed to walk away from. I could always walk away like an expert, a professional, as if it was what I was meant for. I’ve just never walked quite this far before.
 
I remember standing in his studio with the threadbare carpet and the couch with stuffing herniating through worn patches in the cushions, assessing the potential of the situation as an escape route from everything else, as I did with most unexplored places back then. We were talking about something unimportant, I don't know what, although I do recall looking out of the window through our reflection at the empty sky as he moved closer behind me and his arms slid around my waist. There was no space between us so we filled the air with more meaningless words, delaying the inevitable.
 
He rested his chin on my shoulder and I could feel his breath on my neck, his hair against my cheek, as we fell into silence. I turned to face him and drifted into a moment where it felt like everything could change but it was better that it didn't because no matter what happened next, it would never live up to the expectation held in those few seconds when neither of us could look away. I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe my life hadn't really begun yet but it was, at the same time, ending second by second and needed to be held on to, gripped tightly with all my senses.
 
And now, as I walk towards whatever comes next, surrounded by shuffling strangers, a lullaby from childhood floods my mind.
 
Silence your sirens and quiet your fears
Open your eyes again, empty of tears
Adrift on the water, the sun on your face
A breath of salt air and a soul full of grace
 
Afloat on the peace of all you hold dear
Nothing that harms you can reach you out here
When it's too dark to see and it's too cold to roam
May love wrap you warmly and welcome you home
 
I finally understand that home is not a place nor a person. It is not a curated collection of memories and missives. Home is a state of motion, a flickering static of potential as a plane lifts off at sunrise. Home is simply myself, anywhere, everywhere, heartbled and soulrisen.
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The Mariana Trench And Everest

I remember when it first began. I was sitting on the living room floor playing with my toy boats, pretending the blue rug was the sea. I arranged the big boats into the areas I had decided were shipping lanes and made sure the smaller boats kept well out of their way. My father, my source of knowledge about things like shipping lanes, was watching a documentary about the Mariana Trench. I glanced up, vaguely aware of the connection between my game with the boats and the pictures on the television.
 
“It’s really deep, isn’t it Daddy? Skyscrapers could fit in it, right?”
 
“Honey, mountains could fit in it. Even the tallest mountain. You know how tall Everest is? Well, if you put Everest at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the very top would be more than a mile under the surface of the water.”
 
“But the top of Everest is in the sky!”
 
“I know! If the ground our house is on was the bottom of the Trench, the height planes fly at would still be underwater.”
 
“Is the whole sea that deep?”, I asked, suddenly concerned that the scale of the world was far beyond what I had ever considered. I had begun to understand height after traveling in an aeroplane for the first time the year before, but I had no concept of depth.
 
“Oh no, honey, not the whole sea. The Mariana Trench is the deepest part.”
 
It was too late though. In my mind, the entire ocean, every last bit of it, had opened up into a giant chasm of mystery and confusion. That night I dreamed about an endless gaping wound in the surface of the planet, filled with sharks the size of commercial jets swimming around vast underwater mountains, vanishing into darkness and reappearing in a rush of teeth and anxiety.
 
The dream stayed with me for years, resurfacing at times when my life felt out of control. When I saw my first boyfriend kissing another girl at a party, I went home and cried my way into a sleep haunted by the vastness of the subsea landscape in my head. For an entire month before important exams at school, when I drank too much coffee and lay awake most of the night imagining all the ways I could fail at everything, the small bursts of sleep I managed to steal from the grip of caffeine and fear were filled with shadowy underwater Everests. Before my driving test, I spent a week with nights populated by imaginary aquatic creatures, grabbing boats in cavernous jaws and trailing them down below where the light could reach.
 
When I got to university, I spent three years feeling out of control, so terrified of wasting my potential, of letting everyone down, of never becoming what I was supposed to become. My dreams were of nothing but the endless ocean, stretching beyond the horizon in every direction. Even in my waking life, I never quite escaped the sensation of unfathomable depth below me and the suspicion that there was always something waiting to catch hold of my feet and drag me down as I gasped my last desperate breath. They say you aren’t supposed to be able to die in dreams, but I did. Every night I drowned in my dreams and every day I drowned in reality.
 
Then I met you. You, who found me crying at the side of the road, my car packed with everything I owned, my nails bitten to bleeding. I had made it to the end of my degree because giving up wasn’t an option but I was lost, directionless, utterly confused. I was on my way home to my parents’ house with absolutely no plan for what would come next. Even though I knew rationally that it was perfectly fine to simply have a break for a while, to give myself some space to get my head together, it was the first time in my life that I hadn’t know exactly what was coming next and I couldn’t handle it. So I stopped the car, got out, sat down on the ground and cried.
 
You were out for a run when you saw me. Assuming my car had broken down, and being the kind, wonderful person that you are, you came over to ask if you could help. I managed to explain that the car was fine but I don’t remember much else of what I said. I think I told you I was scared. I think I told you why. I know I talked about dreams, about the Mariana Trench and Everest.
 
When I ran out of words and energy to say them out loud, you talked instead. You told me you’d almost joined the Navy but realised at the last minute that you didn’t have enough respect for authority to really make a go of it. You said you’d gone traveling instead and spent a year working as a diving instructor. You told me about surfing, about feeling the power of the ocean and understanding that it was not to be controlled—it was to be respected and experienced and appreciated. You said it was OK not to know what was coming next. When I was alright to drive again, you gave me your email address and said I could keep in touch, if I wanted to.
 
I would love to tell you that now, all these months later, I had been diving or been surfing or been swimming in the sea. I haven’t. Yet. But I am writing this on a boat. It took all the strength I had not to cry when I was boarding but when I think about where I’m going, about the world I’m preparing to explore, I know it was worth it. I’m frightened but I’m still here. And if Everest is below me, the endless depth means nothing. I am beyond the top of the mountain and I can see forever.
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What Did You Expect From Drugs And Holidays?

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A note from the author

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