Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ In transit

Brixton bluebells

In transit is where many people are. At any one time, huge numbers of us humans will be on the move – in planes or trains, buses or cars or, indeed, on foot. Each time Paul and I go to Wales, that physical process of being in transit takes six or seven hours depending on the traffic and whether we stop for coffee or a snack on the way.

But at least when we go to Wales these days, it’s because we want to go. Rarely do we absolutely have to make the journey. Yes, we absolutely had to go in order to be there when my mother or, years later, my father were in the last stages of their lives. Then it was a question of needing to be with them and to support or look after them. Nowadays I’d say that it’s for our own pleasure that we go except that, especially in my case, there is also a sense of need that drives me. It’s need for the North Pembrokeshire air, the sea and the beaches and the countryside. And, of course, for the many old friends who live there. Added to that in my case is the need to reconnect with my Welshness.

I sometimes do think about all the people in the world that need that sense of reconnection. If you’re lucky, you can manage the process without actually making the journey to be wherever it is. You can do it by activating your memories of the place where you want to be together with your sense of how you’d be speaking if you were there and the people to whom you’d be speaking. But sometimes – and I can vouch for this – it makes you feel sad, more sad, to do this because of how it brings the place to life inside you. Sometimes you have to resort to giving yourself an instruction: if you can’t get there, don’t go there. Don’t go there in your mind. Stay away until you can manage the journey, be it physical or emotional.

Lockdown kept me away from Pembrokeshire for many months. Until we crossed the county border yesterday, last August was the last time we were here. I know we could have cheated in the time in between. I heard of lots of people, including second-home owners, doing just that. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Nor could I quite bring myself to dwell on the place in my mind. I knew I’d get too sad. So I had to instruct myself: be where you are and be content there. It didn’t stop me being in touch with Pembrokeshire friends. But that was all. I couldn’t allow myself to hanker.

During the hours of being in transit in our car yesterday, I had occasional mental flashes of what I’d see when I arrived. I especially wondered about the very big branch from the tree next door that, we’d learned a while ago, had fallen onto the roof of our shed. I also tried to imagine how overgrown with weeds our small patch of garden would be. Then I imagined seeing our very good friends who live in the area and going down to our favourite beaches. Being already in transit, it felt OK to tolerate those imaginings.

Now, as of yesterday, we’re here. Different place, different country, different feeling from London, it feels like quite an achievement to have made it. And in recognising this, I feel I have to spare one thought or many for all of those people, including the many exiles and refugees, who for one reason or another cannot go back to where they’d like to be. Sometimes being in transit can happen only in the mind.

PS: Some particular images from London have come with me to Pembrokeshire: the buebells in our London garden. The othe picture is of the primroses that greeted us on arrival.

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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ In transit”

  1. Clare Winstanley Says:

    How lovely for you, to be in Wales. Do enjoy it.

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