So, I return from a weekend in Switzerland, in Valais. We spend every Whitsun there, renting a little chalet with another family. I call the place Pyn, and it is one of my favourite places on earth. “There my heart dwells”. (And I am happy to report that I have reached my goal of double digits (kilos) by Friday, so I allowed myself a diet break for three days, as much for myself as for Dinah who hates seeing me weigh or restrict. I enjoyed eating bread and butter and pizza and sweets, and am now utterly sick of it and happy to return to my healthier food.) The weather forecast was very bad, promising rain and cold, and we arrived on Friday evening well-armed with books, knitting, warm clothes and tea.
On Saturday morning, I woke to find sunlight hitting the blind of our window. It was sunny, but cold. I lost no time, but got ready and went up the hill to the brook path. How easy it felt to walk up the steep path carrying 38 kilos less! The brook path runs straight, high up on the mountain, beside a little brook carrying water to the vineyards far below. Firs grow along the brook, shading the path, and there are tree roots to make steps in steep places, and flowers and grass and moss, birds and a few cows (and occasional hikers, but I only met two). It grew so warm I could take off my coat and keep only my shawl. I hung the coat on a tree, to pick up on my way back. It was a beautiful morning in itself, and the beauty around me made me feel very strange as I was slowly walking along, I call it ‘elvish’. Slow-motion-y, timeless, acutely aware of thoughts and emotions and sights and sounds.
“A-wake, a-lert, a-life” Snatches of poems and phrases came to my mind… “Nature never betrays…those who love her”. Scenes from Tolkien, or Lucy Maud Montgomery. I felt one with nature for several moments, whenever my thoughts and the sounds and sights around me met in a climax of beauty. I felt the earth beneath my feet, wearing only thin shoes so I could feel the floor. I felt the air, the sun, the breeze in my hair and against my skin. There were whiffs of resinous balmy air, the musical sound of water falling or trickling, the rushing of wind in the trees high above. I was by turns feeling deep happiness, delight in beauty, oneness with the world around me, and a longing for something, I never know what exactly. For more beauty, for a way to make it mine and never lose it, for a way to enter into it, to express it, I don’t know.
In between, I was thinking more worldly thoughts. How far I have come this year, for example. I swore to myself that I would go on, keep losing weight and working hard in ballet and on myself. A year from now, I would walk here again, hopefully at my goal weight or very close. I would be en pointe. And – but this was decided later – I would not be alone, except by choice. Because being in Pyn has brought all my story people back, and the emotions that go with the stories. I love them dearly, and have known them for ages. Misha, Jonas, Daniel and Elinor. Elinor especially has been with me for nine years at least, changing with me, but always remaining the better version of myself, beautiful, good, wealthy, confident, beloved, passionate or pensive, happy or sad, she has been my ‘thinking game-girl’. The ‘thinking games’, as I called my stories, have almost disappeared as I ventured out into the world, doing and experiencing more of what I wanted instead of only imagining it. But places like Pyn or the seashore, or travelling in general, always inspire me to relive or continue my stories. The feeling of unrequited love with its sweet pain is one of the constant themes of my later thinking games. Elinor loves Daniel, with a secret, intense passion, and never tells him, but suffers in silence, or enjoys his friendship, or sometimes ‘gets’ him (but then the story becomes boring quite soon and I change it back). Anyway, this feeling, this painful, sweet, longing sensation, and thoughts of all the story parts that have taken place in Pyn, came back to me. Plus, our friends’ daughter Laura brought her boyfriend with her and they came up to the chalet for meals, and witnessing their discreet caresses out of the corner of my eye made me think “I want that”. Not in a bitter way, nor with regret, but rather with a calm knowledge. I want that. Being thinner, I can imagine it better and better without it seeming absurd: having a man who loves me. He would have to understand my need for solitude. I’d go alone the first time. But it would be nice to take him to up to the brook, or over to the stone, and experience them with somebody beside me who UNDERSTOOD. He would have to understand, to know this feeling. I am sure there are men who do, who have not yet killed every such notion with cars and beer and false ideas of ‘manliness’. I sat on the bench in front of an empty chalet above ours, just out of sight behind some shrubs, looking out over the valley and living my stories, and imagining him sitting beside me. There was no pain or bitterness, just a quiet joy. It would be so nice. Maybe I’m ready now, for love? I’m not quite sure about that, but I’d like to meet somebody – no, not just somebody, but HIM – soon, before I get much thinner. I want him to love, or at least come to like me for myself, regardless of my figure. I want to take it very slowly, to get used to being so close to somebody. He would have to be patient, too. Oh, I shouldn’t make lists of all I want him to be, or I’ll get discouraged. I’m sure I’ll find him when I’m ready, I’m just not sure I’m ready yet. But I’m getting there.
But with all the beauty and awareness also comes a heaviness, a sense of loss. There is always this loss, this pain. Almost as soon as I arrive, I have to start saying goodbye again to make it bearable. There is this fear that somebody might change something, build houses on the meadow, cut down the birch, broaden the brook path, sell the chalet. I have no control over those things. All I know is that my heart is at home there, that parts of me are always there, parts of the little girl, the girl, the young woman. I may only be there three days a year, but in a way I am there always. Just as with F. And a little with Santeg, although I only went there once. Last night, I went outside for a moment before going to bed. There were fast-moving clouds and behind them the moon and stars. Oh, such stars! More and brighter than in the city, majestic, burning, in a dark blue sky. I was freezing, but I tried to etch the night sky into my mind forever in those minutes, to always remember the beauty. I want to keep those stars in my eyes when I look at people. I want to DANCE those stars (one day).
I did dance. I can’t be without ballet for long, so I practiced twice, giving myself a class, and stretching. Today, I only danced for fun, when I was alone for a while, doing turns and waltzes with lots of épaulement, and just enjoying the music.
Also, about the mountains: They never meant much to me until last spring, when I journeyed through the alps on my way to Italy, alone, by train. Their size and majesty and mystery touched me for the first time then, flying by in the train in the early morning, with rain and mist around them and a deep repetitive rhythm in my ears, for I was listening to some meditation. Looking at the mountains opposite the chalet, the snow on their peaks, the folds of stone and the forests on their slopes, looking so strong and enduring, made it seem very queer to think that they are actually folds of land, being constantly pushed into each other, crumpled up like metal in a very slow car accident. It made me realise how small and short-lived we are, to look upon such things like mountains and stars as never-changing.
I have grown in these few days. I always do. I wish I could be this conscious and focused and present in my everyday life, but I always fall back into old habits at home. Less internet and radio, and more ‘just being’ would help. I need to remember!