Jessica Eve Watkins.
28th February, 2015.
An hour’s drive from the nearest town, up a nauseous winding mountain road, we are dancing. There is barely anyone else around. It’s been one hundred times worth the journey. All the cavernous space I imagined we would find is right here. Retreat. Silence. Green oaks and eagles. Wet moss and hailstorms.
I haven’t felt so filled by nature in a long time. My perception of individual succulent leaves and rays of light is heightened, and I honour the magic with a fierce protection. What is this creature that holds us all within her? Every single inch of her is a miracle and sometimes it takes peace and space to remember that. We hug our bodies to precipitously bent tree trunks and charge up on her power, our bare soles beating on sunny slabs of stone. My skin is so pale after months of hiding, it feels like the happiest blessing to sway in my dress with new warmth all over me.
Indoors, our home is toasty and full. Logs dry out around the fire, scenting the library with their damp woody musk. I am touched by the folk who share this community with us. Bernard has practised tai chi everyday for the last thirteen years. Downstairs Hilary is hand-writing her novel. In the room next door, a gentle New Zealander sleeps off his jetlag, his guitar unpacked and awaiting new songs. In the room next to him, Dave hunches at his desk til 3am nightly, meticulously pencilling in the noses and cheekbones of American Indian Tribesmen.
The silent brother mountains surround us all, charcoal black with these nights just after New Moon. Owl calls. Alien guessing. Fecund river ferns. The streams are burgeoning with icy water from snow melt higher up in the Montagne Noire, and we notice the ferocity as we fill our water bottles from the spring.
We’ve hung our long dresses all around our bedroom, on every available picture hook and coat peg. We’ve made an alter too, with incense and dried grasses. It’s only been three weeks, but this is well and truly our home. By day we’re making a movie, painting, singing in the hallways, building walls, being too noisy and getting told off. By night it’s more of the same. Lamps and figs and herbal teas. Chats in the kitchen with whomever else is peckish, sharing squares of chocolate and love stories. Coats zipped and boots laced for sunsets and thunderstorms at the very top of the canyon.
My mind doesn’t know how to cope with the void – the lack of shops and cafes and adverts and people. It wants something to mull over. I watch it try to cling onto drama from last year. I watch myself create stories from things I no longer have control over, and in some way it amuses me. I’ve realised something here: I am so tired of bitterness. I’ve been feeling so soft and lofty lately, so full of spring and revival, and I happily cast away my regrets as often as I remember they are mine to set aside. There’s a brightness airing inside me, all cleaned out and in love. I laugh often, breathe deep, read books, and enjoy sleep and discipline.
John tells us about Saint Terese, who died young but spent her short life doing kind things for other people without telling them. We talk a lot about altruism lately, and the good kinds of humility. I feel hooked on all the simple pleasure there is in just being kind.
We return to the city in a week to face new auspicious ventures. February will have turned to Spring. I’m going to live with my friend Andy in Bristol for a while, and paint my heart out. I want to write new songs, record old ones, see all my best friends and favourite people. Party, dance more, and drink in pubs. I have an overwhelming sense of not knowing what will happen next. Life is full and crazy and unknown, and I am ready to be filled again.