I visited the sea a good deal over the course of that Christmas. At first I thought it was peaceful, and calmed me in the busy rush of painting and decorating that seized Dad and I upon our arrival. The house was great, the colours well-chosen; but we felt an impatience with having sat and moped for so long, a mutual desire for productivity and usefulness. We needed to feel valued. The sea – yes, I thought I enjoyed to slow down and sit empty-minded, still, just being.
Then, about New Year time, I realised that the sight of the great blue Atlantic, stretching so very very far, to the horizon and further, was my link to Deanna Macpherson. I looked out across the ever-moving surface, so rollingly beautiful and changing with every wind and tide, and knew that somewhere away out there, Deanna’s deep eyes were turned to mine; there was nothing between our gaze; nothing by spray and wind and mist. She wasn’t so very far away.
But was she moving and changing like the sea, as it was buffeted by the wind, turned by the tide? I did not know. She, as the ocean, was, I knew, consistently wondrous and magnificent in beauty – but was she changing away from me, as I was from her?
What right have I to think such thoughts – that my presence held an influence over whether Deanna Macpherson stayed or went or changed? How could I?
How could I? One factor was my answer, and that factor was the most thrilling of all to me. There was that magical moment when I saw her last, the last word, the last action – how well I recall it. Then the awkwardness; then the parting. Then the great change: moving to America.
What further can I find to say? Shall I restrain my writing, and cease to ask these incessant questions, the answers to which I know not, nine times out of ten? Shall I stop attempting to be poetic, where there is no poetry, no poet, and no inspiration? Shall I become a dull writer, such as we find every day in every place? Or am I already this dull writer of whom you speak?
None of this is to the point. None at all. So I’ll quit rambling and start on my next chapter.
School. I begun the new term of Lewes High School sometime in January. And I loved it! For the first time in year I do not dare to count again, I loved school!
I made friends on my very first day – Rochelle and Colby, Shani and Alf. I played hockey, too, and enjoyed it. I had an art class, which I loved, and English, which I adored. I sat in the cafeteria at lunchtime with my new friends, and with them I complained about the gungy dinners available on purchase for the upper school, crowed at the teachers who dared to step in through the caf doors, snickered at the rowdiness of the lower schoolers. I was a student again, and one accepted, despite his murky eyes and strawish hair and podgy structure.
Not so much now. Going to school and making friends motivated me to do something about myself. I showered every morning, and shampooed my hair, got a haircut, bought a working shaver, found some face-soap, attained a gym membership, and went clothes shopping with Alf. Goodbye to cold ankles and clammy stomachs, the wind whistling up my trouserlegs and my shoes pinching my tootsies. Free! And wearing fashionable clothes that fit me! How can I describe my feelings? I felt so strange, but so easy and happy.
But no! I go too fast. I see your mind racing, your heart beating. How can Den O’Derron, that dirty little rat from England, be suddenly converted in this way? I am indeed taking it too fast. I speak as though it were an immediate transformation, but apart from that blessed liberty from hatred, revenge and depression, the process was in fact much more gradual. But I race, for these things excite me.
Yet there is something missing. And as I return to the ocean each evening after a long day at school laughing and jumping with my new friends – which, I admit, tires me after so long – I know that I miss Deanna Macpherson with the involuntary depth only an unexpected meeting of lips can bring.