People often talk about their reasons for doing this walk. I have many. But there’s one I keep returning to. The Catholic dead.
Mum was head girl of her convent school when she went to Lourdes. In youth she was a devout Catholic, as was her father and brother. She gathered a huge great tin torpedo of holy water at the shrine of the holy virgin, and she kept it for her whole life. I inherited it. This is what I’m doing with it. It sits sticking out of the top of my pack like a torpedo. Mum’s life – it took her in an unexpected direction. She met dad and because he’d been divorced the Catholic church wouldn’t recognise her marriage. The cardinals signed an impressive looking letter and posted it to her from The Vatican, formally excommunicating her. Bastards. Such a hateful thing to do. So she went to the grave thinking God hated her because of the poison of men. That’s spiritual damage, but it’s damage in the realm of ideas and it can be fixed with an idea.
Her death hit me hard, coming as it did just at the end of my drama school training, when my first film was already in the edit and things were gathering momentum. I had been serving myself, chasing ambition, and she had been destroying herself beside me without my noticing. I went off a cliff. I made bad imaginative connections about looking after my own needs proving destructive to those around me. I lost a good ten years to depression and self negation. No more. No more. I’ve got shit to do.
It’s a long time, this walk, and it’s a grand gesture, but it’s time to leave the remains of that nonsense behind. To honour the memory of an excellent mother taken way too young, and to reclaim myself in the process.
Cruz da Ferro yesterday was a powerfully talismanic day, and I’m ready to get into Santiago and dedicate my Compostela. Then I’ll send the flask into the waves at Finisterre with my uncle Peter’s rosary and a signifier for my grandfather. There’s still some walking to do first, but I’m glad to be on this side of the mountain.
Walking was hard today. My legs aren’t recovered from the descent yesterday. Lots of losel shale and snow. My knees are just plain tired. But the villages are pretty. They even have trees that hold hands.
There’s something beautiful in that – two organisms joined. No specific point where one of them ends and the next one begins. Flowing with each other.
I made my 15 miles, but by the time I got into the auberge it was getting dark. Thankfully there is enough of a community here on the trail now that I could message Julianna and ask her to reserve me dinner as I knew she was there. She has only recently started and appears to be wearing rocket boots.
We are in a little village where there’s nothing else, and they are cooking a little vegetarian meal for us. I’m snatching a moment of quiet in my solid handmade wooden bunk. But there’s a fire and music downstairs so I suspect that it’s time to stop writing and go and bloody well be sociable. That’s the next bit of work now I’ve dumped the inner crap.