We moved to this village to be near my grandparents. In the years abroad we’d rarely visited, my mother’s fear of flying keeping us tethered. But there, we lived in a coastal village too, so our calls and letters presented common links between our lives that, in reality, were illusive.
There had been bright, lime washed, sun-baked, stone walls and happy heat, running dusty paths and playing free. Back here was cold, salty air and blustering winds. There we were different: no matter the fluency and familiarity we couldn’t disguise our foreignness. Here offered an ease of belonging, but we were different, still.
Here long summer days were best, I ran free with friends round the streets, woods and beaches. But the cloud always pressed at my back. I searched for home along the stony beach, pressing buds of seaweed between finger and thumb, kicking through the driftwood and rubbish.
I felt trapped. I’d want to use words from there to explain myself here, and I’d find my home tongue lacking. I’d slip into expressions from there, remnants of a different way of thinking and seeing, and find a gulf of understanding had emerged, something I couldn’t bridge. There were things these kids couldn’t know, that I couldn’t explain to them, like the tastes and smells, the gestures and habits of another world. So a part of me stayed locked away.
Occasionally, amidst gulls picking and crying, the sun would push suddenly, shard-like through the grey, splitting into endless degrees of light on water, and everything felt transformed, almost whole.