Even before I left for Christmas, intuition told me that pilgrims coming to St. Agnes for New Year would bring with them a woman whom I would find unquestionably beautiful. Providence, always looking out for me, ensured that she would be among the large group of friends staying with Ellen and Bryce across the road.
Jon and I, his brother Oliver, and Oliver’s wife Katie (who were also here for the New Year) all went out for a walk this afternoon, and ran into friends of friends of theirs, all here for the coming celebration. A guy among the group we ran into on the downs was someone I had met on the plane leaving Scilly a year and a half before. At the time we had worked out that we both knew Jon. When the plane landed late, causing me to miss my connection to the train in Penzance, he and his girlfriend offered to drive me to the next station so that I might catch it there. We raced through the entire southwest of England in their little hatchback missing the train by five minutes in Plymouth, a minute and a half in Exeter. Eventually, according to him—I couldn’t remember exactly—they drove me all the way to Bristol, where I was finally able to board. I did remember feeling so grateful and offering to pay for gas but they wouldn’t hear of it. Time had put this story on a shelf in a little-used closet in my brain labeled “Passing Memories From 1998” and I didn’t recognize him. When he told me who he was I said, “Oh my God, thanks again!” Two days later I’d buy him a pint at the pub and he’d show me a card trick.
After our walk, the four of us went over to say hello to Ellen and Bryce. We saw Ellen through the window of one of the guest rooms lying on a bed with two other women, slumber-party-style. After saying our hellos, and kissing our kisses, we poured into their already-full sitting room. Ellen was now preparing tea. For once it was nice to see the little island so full of people my own age. There was joy in the room as we all talked and introduced ourselves. Two of the girls from the bedroom were missing, still talking to one another. When one of them came into the sitting room for a cigarette and left again, I didn’t even have to see her face to know it was her.
Her movements, clear in the corner of my eye, and drawing my attention away from the conversation I was having, were all effortless grace and easy elegance. The way she carried herself felt like it had been established generations ago, such that the characteristics that might be used to describe her were so inseparable from her that, rather, she described them. Her name, I would find out later, is Clare. What all of this foreshadows can only remain to be seen, but I am loath to say more.
This brings me to the subject of my vulnerability, which I don’t mean to trot out at every opportunity in this journal. I merely wish to free it for use instead of having it stick like a rusty hinge, as it has done so many times in the past, as I’ve tried to open the door of my heart and allow people in. Being here helps. If I don’t open myself up to people, if I don’t reach out, I’ll surely go insane. That simple bit of added urgency does wonders.
Jon’s dad Hans helps too. As I may have mentioned, he’s a man of few words. Practically none, some might say. As I enjoy spending time with him, I find myself and my words drawn into the vacuum left by his silences. I’m drawn out, pulled into offering myself to the conversation and I’m glad for it.
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