England, Have Thou Forsaken Me!

For some, there may be a longing to leave but then, once gone, the urge to return sincerely plagues the heart. One can spend their whole lives in a place where the everyday nuances seem to fade, and the monotony accustomed that is more of a revelling notion than to another cat down the road. The grey, rainy days when your feet hit the slated floor, and there's a deep cold beneath the earth. The sound of the solid wood century-old door shuts, and there's strength in the old latch. It's reliable, stalwart and catches just so slightly perfect. You've grown accustomed to the sound; it's predictably comforting. I feel safe and enveloped inside with the low ceilings and lime plastered walls—quite the opposite of claustrophobic; it's the feeling of being swaddled by my mother. A hearted home does that, you know. The days are perpetually damp, and ordinary walks consist of simply ignoring the short wet days, almost always forgoing a brolly. It's an everyday occurrence to use tea as a pick me up, sharing of life, pastime, celebration, an elixir to calm a troubled heart, or for no other reason than because it's what the English do; it's second nature.

Beyond the rambling stoned cottages, in between the dispersed thatched rooves, the deep hillside beckons where the lanes are lined deep with cowslip above the downs, and the fields are dotted with sheep as far as the eye can see. I never take for granted the quarried dry stoned walls and the dear souls that arduously worked to build so many, and they go on far more than a country mile. I know just where the aperture is that I tucked a wish in, the chipped off stone a metre ways down the lane and the hole along the trail for the critters to pass through to other pastures. The English are strict, petty and have no appreciation for the finer points of bad behaviour, but oh so kind and thoughtful.
The clicks of my heel on the old cobblestone street tell me all is well. But, can I hear the echoes that hold my spirit? England, like myself, is full of contradictions and subtle understatements. I'm parallel to the perfectly landscaped gardens with hedge mazes designed to enclose, protect and flatter while also deceiving me of a bygone era.
Do I miss the cosy pub gardens, the folks with half-smiles and shoppes that have kept the same names as long as I can remember? Or will I return where the tradition of my same fish and chips on the menu has been altered, the smells in the air are no longer as they were? Has the American in me poured over and filled my England gaps? Perhaps my return has been consciously delayed for fear my England is no more as I remember. I am just a moment in time. Has my England gone on without me, or was I never there? Was it all a dream: my heart, my England?


  1. What beautiful words. I have experienced that last sentiment myself - returning to find a place not as remembered. Sometimes it's finer to remember than to revisit.


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