Sunday, before the Poles:
I took time out to dream today. I sat in a coffee shop and flopped back in those coveted cushy sofas that all too often have a couple draping them. Today it was mine, all mine.
I rested my head on its back and instantly I had a flashback to a coffee shop in Bangkok- sitting alone in refrigerated funky surroundings slightly homesick and sick that I was homesick. India had worn me out and in the cool quiet of the Bangkok Starbucks I wanted my friends seated with me, lattes and teas ignored whilst I told Indian tales.
I snap back to London April 07. The lady in front of me types determinedly on a laptop, now and then she confers with a little book. Writing. What happened to that dream?
I write a lot when I get away.
My mind whisks me back and suddenly I am in, I don't really know its name, I took a boat and got off where everybody else did, Laos somewhere, 9 hours upriver from Luang Prabang.
The village has no electricity but I don't know this when we arrive and I make my way up a hill following the others. At the top I walk letting instinct guide me, through the village's main road, a reddish brown dirt lane, lined on either side with homes that double up as shops. I have gotten used to dogs and no longer watch out for them. A village in Thailand took care of that years ago. There were so many hungry dogs running around my feet the overwhelming experience numbed me of further fear. I think pyshologists call it 'flooding'.
I walk slowly and follow the dirt road as it curves to the left and at its end I find a clutch of bungalows on the edge of the land. Through the trees I glimpse the waters I've been floating through all day, I don't know if it's the Mekong or one of its tributaries. I had spent the day with my hand in the water, clean, like they all were once, so close to me I can touch the bed if I dare as the narrow, long boat chugs forward. Every moment I think are we there yet I am met with pale white buffaloes, children bathing and collecting creatures from the water bed, undulating green mounds, trees of breathtaking height, glistening water, turquoise-green, so beautiful you want a lover to make a ring out of it for you and I don't want to be there yet.
A man finds me looking at the bungalows(bamboo shacks really) and shows me to one. I have learned the language of the traveller, smile, smile, smile and say hello anyway. He also shows me the communal bathroom, a spacious clean hut with privacy and water. He leaves me and I climb the steps to the bungalow, leaning forward as I ascend the angled wooden steps, curling my feet over the rails. My centre of gravity does not want to shift and I do this like the oldest woman in the village can't- ungainly.
A hammock hangs on the deck outside the bungalow door. I sit in it and swing myself as I draw in the view in front of me. I want time to stand still.
The clouds swift by , the lights shifts, the water gushes, boats drift by, birds call.
Somewhere life and death swap soul-space, love and hate exchange surprised places, hope transcends circumstance, dreams soar unshackled.
I can't stop it.
It's wondrous- life. I try and memorise the scene, count the number of shades of green, the kinds of bird song, the rhythm of the boats, the rhyme of the water-gurgle and still it changes and I can't keep up.
Soon I too have to move on, find someone to walk me through the hills tomorrow. I don't know how or where to find this person whoever he may be but there is a dream to walk through those hills and it guides me down the steep steps in search of the unknown.