On Harris, I live in a world of two halves. One half holding the name, ‘a lot of people’ and the second half ‘hardly anyone’. They don’t mix, but I do struggle immensely to transition from one to another. For when I am in the half of ‘hardly anyone’ I never question who I am. The days are slow and the most important news is the weather forecast. I am solely connected to the present and everything housed within it. This is the half I wake up and go to sleep in. The half I see when I open our front door and the half in which I wish, sometimes – I could exist firmly, solely and selfishly in – all of the time.
Yet to be a half their must be two parts, and the second half of ‘a lot of people’ waits in the wings, constant ever present. It wakes up when my fingers touch a button or I push the screen of our rather battered laptop. There, in the second half, lies a whole world and its one I hadn’t counted on bringing with me nor meeting when I got here. A world in which people follow our daily lives and learn my thoughts. A half where people have an opinion, which can be hurtful and unwelcome. Its a half in which I sometimes don’t want part in, instead desiring to wrap my thoughts and experiences up in an old blanket and put them high upon a shelf in the warmth and safety of our airing cupboard. Its a half from which I harvest great joy, yet recoil back from, resisting for as long as I can until the pressure builds. Its fast and interchangeable. Where words can be typed a hundred a minute and bright lights sparkle for those who cant get to sleep. Its a world of many faces and it calls me.
I cried. It was damp and wet and as I looked out of our dining room window I was alone in my half of the world. No car nor body past. Noah sung out over the monitor and as he did I willed for that quiet silence only sleeping children can bring. For days I had felt tired, in the wintering period as if verging on the promise of a cold that never bloomed. The contents of my window box swung in the breeze and as it did, a man adorned in creamed knee high socks with red ribbons and dark walking boots, drifted over my view wearing a dark tartan kilt. He danced in the distance among the cornflowers shading my view and as he did smoke sung from his lips into the Scottish air. The angels share. He was soon gone, leaving only the rain to replace him. The rough fibres of our table cloth lay beneath my fingers and I brushed them as the tears of tiredness stained and bruised it a darker shade of blue. A single bee hovered on a cornflower. Noah got louder. Motherhood was calling.
When you’re creative and you don’t have an output something within you begins to swell. It swells so much your body begins to inhibit some kind of large uninvited bubble. Over the last handful of summer weeks the days have turned into the nights without even the sky for warning and Chris like an unknown ship has come and gone as chefs do in the height of any season. I have in some essence been a slave to some unknown time lord, who ironically and rather cheekily has stolen it all from me. Nothing has stood still and so the creative bubble housed in my belly has grown ever more.
When I was young girl I stumbled onto the idea that female artists didn’t have children. Now this isn’t all female artists, but some. There’s a large portion of highly esteemed historical figures who through various quotations made it quite clear that children and creativity don’t mix and for a very large portion of my teenage mind I held and firmly believed that view. I came to realise that children don’t take creativity from the artist, for children pave a magical creative path that cant be taught in any university or grasped to put in any book – more that they drain the time in which it comes to play – I Immensely struggle when that happens. I cling to stolen moments – too hard – hoping they may last a little longer and annoyance over takes me when they don’t. As the evenings have wound down with the eyelids of my children, my hands have grown itchy to turn the key on my creative solitude and yet, Bea and Noah have come alive once more and my creativity has plowed back into the hearts of my children. Just like those artists feared. Motherhood has called me.
As the weather dipped back to a summery chill the stone house grew cold and I with it. I could not get warm. ‘Its July!’ Yet no amount of hot drinks or showers could shake the chill from my body. The jumpers came out and so did my thought process on the winter in front of me.
I wrote a list: start piling up firewood, shut off rooms we don’t use. The everyday boring household tasks we find ourselves as adults responsible for – boringly so – yet strangely comforted by. Making plans, concreting the future with pen and paper as only adults yearn to do.
One morning as the rain sprinkled down, I walked Shug along a path up the side of the mountain. The grass was thick with dew and my wellingtons began to seep. I cursed Shug under my breath as on further inspection I saw a very neatly lined row of teeth marks. We’d walk to the top ledge and then back down. The heather brushed against my ankles leaving a hollow ring as it did and clusters of wild orchids stood proud as I took a moment to catch my breath. No my feet really were to wet, we’d have to head back. Jurassic ferns heavily laden with rain led me back down until at the bottom I noticed a set of stone stairs. Barely noticeable, yet I must have climbed them. We walked back along the sloping pavement where the trees overlap and I peered between the trunks to find a warming space. Lush with moss and overgrown to the delight of mother nature, the trees acted as a curtain keeping the heat in and a thick humidity hung about the air. My feet were growing cold and I yearned to plunge them in hot water. I backed away as if closing a curtain on such a magical scene and my mind filter back to the order of the day. Door curtains that will keep the heat in! I must add that to my list. Responsibility was calling me.One evening after a balmy sort of day, I sat, wrapped in a large knitted jumper on our front step. The children slept above me and tourists every now and then walked by with a gentle nod. There was a thankful breeze and the freshness of the air hit my face. I welcomed it. The temperature dropped every so often and I found myself once again alone. Rain was in the air and I sat rather stubbornly as a lone wasp wouldn’t leave me. ‘You should just kill it’ Chris would of said ‘They don’t serve anything’. ‘Everything has a place in the ecosystem Chris. Even if it’s not part of our world, it’s part of there’s’ I would of answered. I made a mental note to write that down, use it for next time. It’s true though isn’t it? We all have two worlds. Both in the seasons, our good and bad temperaments and the world’s we live beside. I couldn’t tell you why I share my life. I’ve searched both sides of my brain – rather diligently – and I can’t find a answer. Only that I’m strangely comfortable doing it. Maybe it’s because I can say hello and goodbye to each half when and if I please. Or maybe in finding absolute solitude I’ve been able to invite others in. I’m not sure, you’ll have to bare with me on that one. The air became cold and it seeped uninvited through the holes of my jumper. The swelling within my stomach had unassumingly eased and my thoughts drifted through my blood with a little more space. I sat and pieced my final words together and suddenly slammed the lid of the laptop shut. I said goodbye. It fell silent. I was alone. My half – calling.
To all the world’s that call us. May we find the courage and the peace to say hello – and goodbye.
You can now follow me on Instagram @islandwife_hebrides for daily live chats and uploads of life in the Hebrides and YOUTUBE!