Jessica Eve Watkins

18th November, 2014

The snow comes, and blows powder across our landscape, splintering icy dust into my eyes, and smattering the yard with white. A howling wind clips the corners of the house, haunting the rafters. We sit in Helsie’s bedroom late at night, harmonising a new song and debating whether to get naked and cover our bodies in paint. It sounds like Wuthering Heights out there, like Cathy’s ghost is pining again.

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We stacked logs yesterday. I was sock-less and frostbitten and happy. Wood clutched to chest in lumberjack embrace, smelling of dark mossy bark. My cardigan carpeted in burrs. A return to the real, to the forest, to the elements, to nature. Earthy timbre and mulch-streaked palms. Nestled woodlice and splintered thumb. And the joy of working together for a shared moment in community. I’ve closed myself down for a while, but I can taste delicious expansion in my chest, and remember times in my life where working on a laptop hasn’t been the main activity in my day. For a moment I miss Wales, and the badger-rustling nights of campfire blackness and chipped teeth; forest stumbles with tea-lights in jam jars. I miss the outdoors.

When the blocks are stacked, I breathe cleaner and love deeper. Spaciousness arises. I try desperately hard to be there for a friend who is feeling all the angst I have been working so hard to shake off. I try to hug her, but I’m in her space. She reminds me of myself, needing to watch the bleak show of life alone with the curtains drawn for a few days. It’s ok, it has to be like that sometimes, but it’s difficult to witness. I go to sleep terrified that I’m a bad friend, and a worse listener.

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It’s been all about me for weeks now, because my heart’s been hurting, and my mind has eclipsed all other parts with the hurt. Today though, an awareness of things occurring outside of myself feels like the largest gift in the world. Someone else is heartbroken – actually several others in this household are heartbroken – and another girl is in desperate need of female friendship. Someone is feeling insecure, and someone else wants to share a cigarette with me. I feel enamoured with all the witchy folk I live with at Snaggy, and like I want to strengthen alliances with everyone around me. The characters are so strong. We are all searching and lost and doing the best we can.

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Sarah left a few days back, and before she did she sang a song. It was about a Reiki session I had given her in a dark bedroom one night.

Your hands found my throat, the way my heart gets stuck there. My certain and solitary despair pulled toward you, finding company in your fingertips. What is the substance of such despair?

After she’d gone, I read a note she’d left me: ‘To be a conduit, to be sensitive, to be vulnerable to the world – it’s a gift and a curse, isn’t it? I find so much strength in being near you – somehow the burden of the world feels lighter.’ I already miss her dearly. We had so many chats about lust and living, because we glimpsed each other’s vulnerability and instead of closing down, we chose to share. My connection to her made my days brighter. Sharing our fears with sensitive listeners is so powerful, and right now feels like the strongest, most important part of community, the part I’m searching for.

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