Travel (or rather thought) Diaries: Wales

A weekend spent in Wales in the middle of January. 

Awakening at 5 AM can only be justified by the pursuit of youthful nomadism. In the excessively matinal hour, long expanses of British land resembled Shetland sweaters sprinkled with sugar, viewed for hours on end through a train window. Quickly moving, the sky blushed baby-bedroom pink.

An increase in alien names of towns signaled our entrance into a – marginally – different realm. London’s dripping humidity remained on the train, took itself elsewhere on a weekend, as we stepped out into a glaring, cold platform. A deep deciduousness, a crispness of air took me back to a continental Europe that I can’t forget. A nature that, although timid, is honeyed and sunlight.

Merthyr Tydfil. A town named after a princess saint. There is a stained glass window with her image in a Cardiff Cathedral: a diaphanous being with a long red braid. The town bearing her name is not a particularly small one, though the apparent insignificance of its train station makes it seem so. Small as it may be, our short stay in the town was dictated by the station clock’s electronic ticking, by the coming and going of a train meant to take us to our cottage: one of many symmetrical houses under the shadow of mountains. To arrive from the train’s stopping place to the cottage, a passage through a short stone tunnel led thereafter to a bridge hovering phantom-like over a river.

In an ongoing effort to place, categorize, organize my life, I often consider which moments to keep. Where will the days that we will remember go? Those fragments of life that seem arbitrarily more sculpted than others obsess me; I struggle to best describe them, to save them from disappearance without massacring them in the process.

MT has a fruit store. Other than being considerably cheaper than what London offers, there isn’t anything particular about it, but I hope that if I tell you that the fruit store resembles childhood you’ll know what I mean. I dropped a box of blueberries in the fruit store. It must have been the sleepless euphoria, but as I froze (and froze is such a sad word to describe the best thing that can happen to a significant second) mid-air, palms out-splayed in something resembling ridiculous supplication, mouth gaping, blue flying around me…I experienced what I might call horrified poetry. I wished, weirdly and mutely,  to remain sleepless and surrounded by blueberries forever. It was…wonderful. There must be something sublime about petty catastrophe. I left the store abashed but with William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say” on the tip of my lips.

Another thought that I would like to save from erasure is one that I had while climbing a mountain in the area. Though an approachable climb, the mountain was crowned by a summit like a horizontally laid dagger, covered with snow. Never before have I experienced such a cold, which I felt would leave me without either face or hands, and for this reason I don’t think I shall ever forget how it felt. And I won’t forget either, how cold and sweet (forgive me) the blueberries were as we ate them on the top of the mountain, lying on our backs and looking up at the sky. But what I wanted to write was that as tiredness sunk its teeth in, as the descent became sharp and tiring, I imagined them to the stairs from the castle of an ancient empress. And I thought of fallen fortresses, of monumental punishment, of the irreparable that so many times accompanied the ghostly expansion of rapid clouds over the summit.

And so I thought that we might be able to bear it all as that those who came before us bore more.

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