Now, as I sit in my parents house in North Carolina, I’m not sure where home is. It still feels like it’s Wales.
One of things that made me happiest in Wales was running through the green. I figured I’d show you what happened and what I listened to when I did.
My family moved a few times when I was younger; each of those times happened to coincide with a particularly sensitive era of my life: 1st grade (New York to Oklahoma), 8th grade (Oklahoma to Texas), 10th grade (Texas to New York). While good things came from these experiences (being comfortable alone, having friends I care deeply about in many places), one issue still exists: an unfun separation anxiety. Tomorrow is Thursday. I leave Wales on Monday. This anxiety of mine means that I’ve been getting up around 5:00am to sit out on the veranda by myself to watch the sun rise, and going to bed after midnight.
Before I moved here with Frank, I spent the last ten years in school and working sometimes five part-time jobs at the same time. I had so little time while getting my PhD that I would read at stoplights and standing up in the shower. I remember reading Henry James’ What Maisie Knew, my back to the water, turning the pages with wet hands. I still read in the shower, because I don’t know how not to. But being in rural Wales has taught me to be different. Its green has taught me to be different. To slow down and not fight the precipitation.
During this time of knowing I’d be leaving, I have been listening to, on repeat, two songs. The first is The Middle East’s Blood:
The second is “Whirring” by Joy Formidable, a band from Northern Wales that played SXSW and has been impressing folks all over the states united. I have listened to this song on so many runs and late nights out on the veranda. I figured I’d show you what happens when I do.
Here now, the first of two videos that hopefully show how much I’ve loved life in Wales. Perhaps if you can see how great just one small part of my life has been here, you’ll understand why I am so heartbroken to leave. Also–watch how quickly the light changes the green.
Wearing a leather jacket on a beach does not make him a vampire.
He is, however, one of our favorite people in Wales. Even after one night he sat through Frank and my hour-long, heated, somewhat inebriated discussion about feminism (the “re-branding” of it Frank thinks it needs), he didn’t abandon us. He is so smart, one of the funniest people I know, and one of the best people to sit with near the sea with. He also introduced us to his awesome brother and Ohio-born sister-in-law who took us out to the beach on Anglesey one fine day in April.
You can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day.
Hopefully Myf will come out to the states and you will get to meet him too.
Who wouldn't want to share U.S. citizenship with this man?
He’s also a kickbutt drummer. Here’s videos of him and his band, Plant Duw. They’re pretty well known in these parts. Perhaps we can get them to play in the states so I can be a groupie.
Check out their facebook page here: Plant Duw
Homemade (by me) Hot Cross Buns
Have you heard of Box Toss? Most likely not, because most likely you don’t know one of my five favorite people in the world: Louie. He’s the one who taught us, and it is on his behalf that we bring it to the world. In his name. On Easter Sunday.
Tom focuses on where to send the broken planter.
John focuses on the special teams. Note the beer in the other hand, for balance purposes only.
Frank is enjoying himself, especially as I had yet to throw and so he was not, along with everyone else, far behind in my wake.
The low point of Box Toss: when the round's over, finding all the crap so it can be thrown again.
If only Greg's gym teacher could see him now.
Take that! Greg's gym teacher!
We discarded as an instrument of the game half a credit card we found that expired a decade ago. Myfyr expresses his displeasure.
They are scholars and gentlemen. Or were, until we introduced them to Ranch Dressing. These people and their "salad cream"--whoever brings the Hidden Valley over here is going to make a fortune.
These are Welsh stairs. They go nowheres.
Frank’s mom and I went for a run, and I took her through a pasture on a sunny day. We finished the run with wet shoes and the kind of joy that happens when you are in the presence of a new lamb.
But because this is Wales, all the other days were a kind of damp that makes the joints say bad words.
We went to Lladudno. Say it with us know: chlan (make that noise, where your tongue hits the top of the mouth and you blow spit) did-no. A beautiful seaside town a few train stops away from where live on our island.
Our friend Richard Froude has a marvelous new book out, Fabric, from the press that the inestimable Jen Tynes runs: Horse Less Press. In it, Richard, who’s from Bristol, England, writes “In England, it is difficult to drive out of the city. That is, after an hour or so, the city you are leaving has drifted into a new city into which you are arriving.”
Except for Cardiff, I have never experienced the “arriving” in a city. Where we live, the pastures and the sea create a narrative that does not want to be interrupted by the vertical urgency of civilization. Concrete does not slither into sprawl in Wales. The restive, shifting green is everywhere. A metaphor: The green is in every inhale and exhale. The city is the occasional snort.
Frank and his mom on the pier.
A view from the pier on Llandudno.
This is what waiting for a train is supposed to look like.
This is what waiting for the train actually looks like.