I made a quick trip to the north to see my mother. My family is spread all over Europe and America, but luckily my mum is just a 5 hour train ride to Newcastle. The closest relative would be my dad in Buckinghamshire, but seeing as that is my most natural journey whenever I need to get out of Brighton, I felt if I could go up north for a few days it would really clear my head.
My partner has been sick for two and a half weeks now, one week spent at home in my care, before he grew worse and was taken to A&E in Eastbourne, where his family lives. He has been asleep for a week and a half in Intensive Care, and it has been a struggle for everyone involved. These moments of stress and fear can create a dilemma within a loved one such as myself – do you wait bedside every day and wear yourself down when there is ultimately no help you can give, or do you use the small moments of tranquility to take a break yourself? After days of worry and loneliness in the south, I chose to move my work shifts and get on a train and make the long journey to my mother, who I hadn’t seen since January.
The north is beautiful, the further you get, the more it empties into fields and greenery, dotted with pieces of history in the form of cities such as Newcastle, towns, or farmhouse manors. You could drive to the outskirts of a town and walk and walk and lose yourself if you wished. You can discover treasures in the landscapes that are your own to pass on in memories. I am a girl who has spent a lot of time in new cities, but always craved the absence that is walking in a place where no one meets you and you feel completely alone. Perhaps the definition of independence is something else to me. It isn’t buying your first car, or finally being financially secure. It is a journey, small or big, that you take alone.
To me, a journey of independence would take a similar form to a trip I regularly made as a young teenager. I would see my then pony Poppy after long hours of school, and by the time I could get to her in winter, we would be in complete darkness. I would ride her back to her field, quite a distance away with no lights to guide us, but we both knew the way and would move in confidence with nothing but the cold stars above and our breath freezing in front of us. She is a pony who lives much of her life in in fear, but together in the blackness, we were not afraid.
And I am not afraid now. But definitely alone. I am coming home, to what I guess is home. But much of the home was determined by my partner; and now, though I am sure only temporarily, I fill his side of the bed with objects, eat badly, and forget the gym. He doesn’t know he left me. I kissed him goodbye, packed him an overnight bag and went to work, thinking we would be together very soon. They put him in a coma that day, and he has been sleeping 99% of the time since. But I know we will talk again, that he will be awake and it won’t be long now.
I am not one to discuss love, those who know me will know that about me. But what I don’t want is to forget these thoughts. Time may have passed in seconds for him, but for me, this journey of independence will have lasted weeks.