Sunday, August 1, 2010
My Sister phones from Canada. She remarks on the clarity of the line. I say that it is because we are much closer to her now. She laughs and asks what the shopping is like, then "Do you like living there?" I reply in the affirmative. I wonder if she believes me - I wonder if I do.
We go for a walk earlier than usual. There are a lot of people at the stones today. A large group of Spanish/American tourists are on top of the rocks, taking pictures, while a private tour guide is pointing various things out to a Japanese family. A young French couple take photographs of each other leaning against the stones and someone has placed a bunch of wildflowers wrapped in Christmas paper in the cairn at the centre of the circle. I watch James running around, as usual, trying to hide behind a stone, his bright blue jacket and golden hair making his hiding place fairly obvious. "Count to fourteen and then come and find me!" he shouts.
We climb up to sit on the rocks and observe the people moving around - Big Daddy Sheep is grazing beside us - not even pausing to look up, such is his enjoyment of the summer grass. We sit for a while, as James searches, unsuccessfully for baby rabbits. A large boat is anchored in the bay and we watch as a smaller craft detaches and heads for the shore. Another group of young people head up the hill and we see them stop and take in their first view of the monument. I love to see people enjoying this space. A tiny something inside shifts, imperceptibly and I begin to feel a bit better. I want to tell everyone - "I live here!" Instead I remember that dinner is cooking in the oven and I am hungry. As I set the table on our return, I root around in some of the unopened boxes and find the new cutlery I had bought for this house. Yes, it is time to start living in the present.
We were recently back down at the old house for a week, catching up on various bits of business and loading the truck with more things for the return journey. While we were there, Kenneth and his girlfriend took a trip up to see the house and explore the Island. Our paths crossed briefly on our return as we disembarked the ferry just as they were boarding. A quick hug in the terminal building waiting room and they were off. He looked so grown up, confident, his own man. and I felt that pang of loss that happens when you realise your child is no longer yours alone. Back at the house I could sense his presence and felt a huge emptiness, which gave way to tears. I missed him - really missed him, and wanted to be home.
Connection - that's what is missing. We have removed ourselves from hundreds of year of family - of instinctive knowing of a place and people. Recognising the faces - knowing the stories, being part of another's history - this place holds none of that. The home I was pining for is no longer there. It exists in my mind - a recollection of different times, different scenarios different people - the pain of nostalgia. Home is made from memories, conversations, meals, joys, sorrows - all those things- not waxed wood floors and vintage pillowslips. I know Kenneth and Louise will be back here - as will our daughters. James will grow up here and his all his childhood memories will be of Lewis. My grandchildren will come on extended holidays, friends and neighbours will drop by. Home Making is a slow business - it takes time and energy and love, but like the fabric on tomorrow's shopping list, we will weave ourselves - thread by thread into the warp and weft of this place.