vendredi 19 avril 2013

My disappearing day.

One Sunday, last summer, I decided to disappear.  Not in any big, dramatic way – just for a few hours.  I had been visiting my family for the weekend, and my boyfriend was at home in Brighton with his band.

There had been a party on the Saturday night and I was tired and slightly hungover.  I woke up early on Sunday morning, as is my habit, and left quietly.  I walked the half hour or so to the station in an early Sunday-morning, deserted town.  It was a beautiful day, getting hot already.

I took my usual train into London, buying an Observer on the way.  The weekend coincided with the release of Sun – the new album by Cat Power that I had been eagerly awaiting.  There was an interview with her in the newspaper, talking about being brave and with a photograph of her with her new short hair, floating in a Miami swimming pool; the water was a perfect light blue but her clothes and eyes were dark.

I don’t know why this provided a trigger but it did.  A small one, but a trigger nonetheless.  I ripped the page out and stuffed it in my bag when I threw the rest of the paper away.  When I got off at Paddington and onto the tube, on a total whim, instead of staying on as far as Victoria and getting on my final homestretch train back to Brighton, I jumped off after only two stops.

I exited the tube at Notting Hill Gate and the day had become hot and sunny and perfect.  I headed towards Portobello Road – an area I used to hang out in quite a bit a long time ago, but hadn’t been to for years.

I didn’t do anything very exciting at all.  I walked and walked in the sunshine streets.  I perused the stalls and ducked in and out of vintage shops.  I tried hard to find something to buy, to keep for myself to remember my lovely little afternoon, a necklace maybe – but I found nothing and that was fine, maybe even fitting.  I wandered around until some of the stalls started packing up.  I feel like I had a bottle of Corona, sitting in the sunshine on a metal chair on the street outside a bar, but I can’t be completely sure – I want to be accurate, and there is a chance I have made that (almost too fitting?) detail up.

Nobody knew where I was.  My boyfriend thought I was at my family’s house.  My family assumed I had gone back to Brighton.  Usually when this thought hits you, it’s with fear – nobody knows where I am, anything could happen to me.  On that particular day, it felt safe and friendly and fun.

I felt relaxed and brilliant and soaked in sunshine by the time I made my way back to the tube.

I got back to Brighton that evening feeling like I had a secret, but an entirely benign one.  That rare thing, perhaps – a secret that hurt nobody and brought me a little bit of joy.  I still have that picture of Cat Power from the newspaper as the screensaver on my computer.

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