Writing 101, Day 2: A Room with a View (or Just a View)
If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?
Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
– Joan Didion
A wave of nostalgia rises in my chest as I wistfully leave the quiet of my quaint Oxfordshire room. I am washed upon the shores of Presthaven Sands. It has been over twenty years since I have walked these grassy dunes, yet I am here now, a child again; blissfully unaware that these moments spent holidaying in Wales, would be some of the last of a time when our family remained complete.
I remember well the walk from our caravan to the beach; wooden walkways weaving upwards through the dunes, stopping just short of the crest of the hill. I try to keep up with my sister, Sarah, who races ahead in her usual bid to lose me. She is two years older than I am, but her height would have you think more, at five years of age she is all legs and feet. Some of the horizontal slats are missing from the pathway and I hesitate before hopping across to safety. The thick, grassy blades beneath are sharp, but my memory sharper, as I recall a previous trip to Wales when one of those blades borrowed itself deep into the sole of my foot. Oh! How I’d tried to fight back my tears as Mum removed it from my tender skin.
With trepid steps I continue, the wind whipping through my hair as it carries the high-pitched yelps of Alex, our fluffy white Samoyed, high up into the sky. Never did I feel so alive then in this moment of pure anticipation and bliss. The beach was a rare experience for a young girl growing up in Tameside, Manchester, and I longed to stay in that place forever.
I finally reach the summit, joining my sister at the top. We stand overlooking the beach below, eagerly glancing over our shoulders as we await the moment Mum would signal our descent. She’s talking to my Auntie and Uncle and we try to catch her attention. I can just make out Dad’s dark hair dancing in the distance, wild like the wind, as he trails a few feet behind the others. Dad mostly walked in solitude, preferring to take it all in. When Mum finally nods her head, off we bolt, racing down to the beach below! Our descent is as dangerous as it is thrilling; the fear of being bowled over by a big barking bundle of fluff; the stray sand dunes with their thick, pointy blades, the jagged rocks and sea shells which have been washed up along the beach edge. I stop to collect a few, holding the hem of my dress and placing them gently inside my make shift hammock. I have vivid memories of lining them up once back at the caravan, cleaning them and admiring my new-found treasures. Even now, aged thirty, I own shiny pebbles from the beaches I have visited across the globe. My Mum says I’m a hoarder. Admittedly I am, but only a hoarder of memories and sentimental things. I’m much more brutal when it comes to discarding material objects, (much to the satisfaction of the local charity shops!)
We walk our usual annual walk to the lighthouse; a walk we can only take once the tide is out. Mum tells us that we’ll have to be quick before the tide returns, which only adds to the thrill and excitement of our adventure. The further we walk, the more the sand resembles the sea, which has left behind imprints of ripples and waves. We stop along the way to kick a beach ball with Dad, to draw pictures in the sand with sticks, and to admire the rainbow coloured jelly fish which have been washed up along the shore. Alex yelps at them and has a good sniff. Mischievously, Sarah and I throw lumps of sand on top of them to see how their bodies wobble. As we get nearer, the white and red speck of the lighthouse on the horizon grows taller and taller until eventually, it looms large above our heads like a giant majestic sea creature! The sea waves crash against the rocks as the sound of seagulls circling above permeates the air. We climb the jagged edge to the lighthouse, our feet slippery and mucky from the soggy sand. Once sitting safely, we gaze out over the water and breathe the salty sea air deep into our lungs.
We made it! Our family; forever united in our perilous adventures across Presthaven sands. And it is here I remain, in that perfect place, which is forever imprinted in my heart.