The night before, I could only describe as horrific; I had been up until nearly four AM having half an emotional breakdown. It had taken a lot of crying, “chill-out” music and eventually a playlist of my favourite band to calm me down, along with Josh (my latest confusion of “friend-or-more”) talking to me while I spluttered out everything that was on my brain.
As a result of that night, I woke up later than I would have liked in the morning so by the time I got into lesson, just shy of five minutes late, I was still excruciatingly tired and stupidly hungry from skipping breakfast. I thanked myself for having the good sense to move so close to the campus; it was a minuscule walk from Uni to home, meaning that I could top up on food very quickly after I was done.
I only had four hours of lessons to survive–nine AM to one PM. That was all! Friday was my longest day at Uni but that was half a day compared to the college I came from. Lessons didn’t bother me, early starts didn’t entirely bother me; what bothered me was that I felt kind of lost around there. That single, simple thing of being new and not having friends yet, like everyone else seemed to, was driving me insane. I hardly spoke to anyone that I had considered my friends from college, even though I had asked them all how they were and tried to catch up. I hardly spoke to anyone in Uni and after watching everyone in my class get along like they had been glued together, I walked out of the classroom, said I was fine to the girl that asked if I was okay (which inside, I felt genuinely grateful for) and went to the toilet to pull myself together before I cried. I had to keep pulling myself together the whole walk home.
I liked quiet, secluded places to chill out. On the verge of what may have been another complete breakdown, I decided I would find a place to go that very day–do or die.
Back at my parents’ house, one of my quiet places was my bedroom, that I had painted yellow and adorned with posters of bands and members I loved. Another place was the swing set that I sat on until the early hours of the morning with Josh as we sang Biffy Clyro and watched the stars. I needed somewhere like that, so I went to a place just down the road from me, and from my Uni–Sunny Hill Park.
I passed a graveyard and a small church, debating whether I should sit in there and prove my very intermittent belief in God. I didn’t like churches much, the inside was always too dusty and murky for my taste, though I still loved the idea of one day entering a church to sit, send a prayer up to God and feel like you had somehow come into a warm home you didn’t know you had when the world outside was cold. Yet, while I did indeed feel like the world hated me, I dismissed the idea of entering the church and continued to walk to the park, skirting the last edges of the graveyard until I could see a clear section of grass amongst shrubs and crooked trees.
I glanced two logs set out in the little square clearing behind some gates, that, while opened, I decided to feel I was banned from going through for no real reason at all. After a re-think, I ended up setting my sights on a fallen tree on the other side of the open green of the park. To me, it was broken and its remaining branches reached up into the air to ask for someone to help it up, like a human would reach their hand up if they had fallen too.
From a distance, it looked like the tree had come from a desert. The wood was dry and a faded brown, battered by the sun that still shone above it here. It was barren and I didn’t want to be in the sun. I wanted to find the shade so that I could retreat into it, and then slink away into myself. My eyes collided with a bench, sat facing two diagonal lines of trees. There was shade smothering the bench in its entirety and the scenery was pretty nice. I changed my destination again.
As I walked along the pathway, all I could hear was the dull tolling and twinkling of chimes. It wasn’t the prettiest noise but I had no clue where it was coming from and it intrigued me. I liked chimes and rainbow makers; I liked things that were beautifully simple, yet oozed mystery and fantasy.
So, upon hearing the chimes, I abandoned the fallen tree, abandoned the bench, and walked off the path along a grass track that went up the hill. It gently led towards the side of the graveyard I had walked by earlier on my journey. Like I had been called back there, I found myself on the other side of the clearing with the logs and decided that I had found my bubble of comfort–the quiet embrace of nature I was yearning for. It may have been slightly creepy, but I sat facing the church and the graves (instead of the ‘eye-pleasing’ fence that ran opposite), and curled up on the log to write until I felt better.
As I wrote, my tears restrained themselves better than I had managed myself and I realized that they would always be there until the next time I came close to breaking. They lingered just beyond a thin veil of subconscious control. I was not okay, yet I was okay with that. I didn’t have to lie here, I didn’t have to ignore that like the sun and the clouds, like the warm air and the cold breeze that battled around in the atmosphere outside, I was in turmoil inside. For now, I had found the eye of the distressing storm that surrounded me. It would be waiting and I, would one day face it. Head on.
The places in this life-in-fiction piece: