Written in response to The Daily Post: Weekly Writing Challenge
Inspired by The Smiths: William, It Was Really Nothing
Every body’s got to live their life and god knows we were living ours. It was just a couple of hours before a soft red sun rose over the fermenting summer vegetation. We had been hanging around Man Dam since the pubs closed their doors to the world and now the world was ours – standing on Cleckheaton Viaduct and waxing lyrical about the moonlit waters below. The air was pleasant – humid – giving way to a refreshing morning breeze.
Some hours before and my friend had courageously taken a skinny dip in these murky waters. It was a vital move, worthy of the person who introduced me to Kerouac and The Smiths. Kerouac’s language pervaded the whole experience. The ducks didn’t quack, they hollered unholy protests in the night, exclaiming THIS IS WHERE IT BEGINS. The trees didn’t move in the gentle breeze, they hypnotised us and invited us to join them in waving to the stars, they helped us see the bigger cosmos blowing by us in the dusky clouds. This was the jewel-like centre, a dark and dirty oasis in which could, well , just be.
A monument to the post-industrial North of England, the Viaduct is a 120 metre brick parapet supported by high steel trestles – it imparted a mystical resonance. It was our tower, our safe haven from nothing-in-particular. Yet crucially our time up there was sparing us from daily life – parents – school anxiety – even sleep. We were absolutely free – timeless – endless. Every breath seemed so important. In retrospect it was an exquisitely slow moment – a pause in life to mark a point before growing up – moving on – taking on responsibilities. REALISATION.
The rain falls hard on a humdrum town and how humdrum Cleckheaton could be. How beautiful it is to be seduced by and dragged down by humdrum things. Fresh skin – a supple sense of self. An image forms in your mind of your young, lithe body taking on a weight of complex emotions that you are only just discovering within yourself. To yearn for the great unknown, what a joy. What will love be like.
Imagining any tawdry relationship presents so many rich flavours and colours. The smell of washing powder, the excitement of housing estates and blackened stone, a furtive glance and cigarette flavoured kisses, drinking and pissing. What will you be, who will you find. The main threat is not-caring. At this moment in time I cared about everything, sensitive to the drops of dew forming in the grass – the clean smell in the air after the day time traffic stopped. I cared for the smell of the earth, the salty crush of asphalt as a single car passed up Spen Lane, the history of the human race.
As you get older such dreams dampen, the rain becomes painful and inconvenient. I have to sallow a lump when thinking of this night with the words running though my mind, “William, William, it was really nothing”. But the nothingness of life was lit up that night. It was born of a naivety that will never return, a wild self-centred view of the world – but not selfishness – a deep sense of altruism for everything. Nothingness becomes everything in this energised state. For a time I fought realisation – what is it to make things ‘real’ if not to accept a dampened sense of existence.
The spark is still there – life still holds a joy. I have learnt the value of patience and perseverance. Some of the best things in life are the hardest to achieve, the greater knowledge is that which is unattainable. But it is different, and part of me is still yearning to be on that shadowy brick parapet. Just close your eyes and listen.