Wandering in St. Ouen.

A friendly cabbie took me down to my favourite part of the island today. St Ouen, with the huge apocalyptic sands looking out across the ocean all the way to America. I chose Le Braye as my drop off, rather than my usual El Tico. Perhaps a little quieter, and I’m a fan of their lunchtime only crab sandwich.

I had already eaten some when it occurred to me to snap it

I sat at the top of a wall and watched the sea. Getting my bag onto the beach looked like a spot too much faff, especially if I’ll be working on the beach most of the coming week.

I found a spot, comfy and warm. The sun soaked my skin and I read most of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A good choice of book for me right now – a book about childhood memory and magic and ancient things. This island is replete with all three for me.

Anything seems possible while I’m on this soil. I sprung from it, like a potato. I grew and prospered on it. Then I was exported to get mashed up. Like a potato.

Walking around today I was regularly blindsided by strong emotion out of nowhere. I belong here, my brain keeps telling me it is right. The light. The wind. The colour of the stone. Here, it is right. The spirits keep asking me “why did you leave?” My tears are quick, ready and defying logic. Everything is close to the surface here. This is where nature stuck the eyes and other features into my potato head. My body knows it.

I never really wanted to leave, but in my twenties I was still somewhat under the sway of my mum and she wanted to be in London. She’s buried here now though despite that, and my sense of self is buried here as well. Sure, I fit London fine now, and I knew the London before Covid like you know the veins and blemishes on your own hand. But the world, and London … it will rebuild in a different shape. Maybe this wedge of Covid is a convenient cue for an exit? Or maybe I’ll end up plugging back in to that vortex…

Today though I just wished I’d hired a car. With all my stuff I found myself remembering that there’s not really much in the way of public transport in Jersey. Tired from sun, I started trying to work out how to get a bus to St Aubin. “It’s Friday evening,” the guy at Le Braye told me as I was thinking of ways to get to St Aubin. “I just dialed a cab for another customer and they told me at least an hour.” The nearest bus is up by Corbière…

With the falling light, I schlepped with my bag down the five mile road. More inevitable than hopeful.

Then up the winding road to the old defunct train line at the top of the hill. I let myself believe there was a romance in the evening and in my sweat. I smiled at the sound of the breakers as I walked and at the screaming of the birds. I ignored the screaming of the brakes of the Jersey drivers wondering why the hell I was walking in the middle of the road. I got to the top of the hill. I was still emotional. Still mostly happy.

Eventually, after walking was getting a little less romantic and more practical, I got picked up by Adam at Off the Rails, where they sell you pizza and beer (with expensive olives) from a wooden hut off the old train tracks, and I had to get myself a moretti to cut through the trail dust. He took me back to his. I was able to use his shower. Thank the lord. I stank after my long hot walk.

Now I’m back at his place, on my comfy double bed – a luxury after the Mornington and before the barracks. Adam is producing Christmas Carol this year over here. Beautiful things… We went for tasty dinner and now I’m in his spare room – about to finish consuming my book before sleeping as long as I possibly can.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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