Swim 12 - Jan 7th 2016   2016


Running at 8.45am. I’d completely decided to run, and when I woke up at 7.15, though it sounded windy, I could see a thin crescent moon through the window glass above the blind, so there was some clear sky. I was disappointed  to be rained on when I went out to measure the boot of the car. I had breakfast anyway because Andy had made it (he’d made a smoothie and put blueberries on the muesli) and I felt mean not to join him, but then I thought I’d better just go at low tide which was 9am. I put gloves on and long tights and my ‘barefoot’ shoes and went out. I realise now it’s hard running by the rec. because the ground there slopes upwards slightly - plus it’s within the first 5 mins of a run - which often feels blundering as if the body can’t gear-change that smoothly. 

I didn’t get wet feet until I was past Sim’s, where the dead-end road has streams running across it. In winter there’s a proper river down the stony path. The mud at the corner below the YHA past the road bridge pulled my shoe off at the heel, so I had to stop and pull it back on. The wind blowing hard and cold made my eyes water, so it was hard to see the ground. I last ran on Tuesday and then I couldn’t see for the rain and also because I’d pulled my hood over as much of my face as possible against the hard drops of rain hitting my face. I really trust myself to feel my way.

Running down down, looking at the path all the time for the least wet or slippery way. At the end of the path I look out at the sea. It’s low tide by dark moon so hardly a low tide. I decide it’ll be ok in the blue lagoon, even though waves are washing in, and I run down to the mine head then leave my shoes and socks on the rock there before clambering down to the smoothed beach rocks. That way I won’t be tempted to climb up the wet cliff and somehow I feel as though I must not do that today.

The rocks are cold and my feet are numb because the running sock-shoes I wear have no toe protection so my feet were instantly wet. I stumble on the smaller rocks and climb up the rock wall but as I clear the top the wind hits me hard from the north-east so I decide against the blue lagoon - there is more shelter from the wind in the round pool. I climb back down and strip off fast - looking toward Longships. Every time I undress I remember the time in September when I left my headband on - the black and yellow fluorescent one I wear to keep my hair out of  my eyes. I’ve only left it on once. As soon as I am naked I step forward into the water, but I slip on the rocks as none of the rounded pebbles in the pool are stable. They shift and tip under my weight and I fall. I clamber about in the shallow pool, following it as it shelves deeper until finally I can get my whole body under the water, but still my bum or my knees knock against the larger stones and I am half crawling, half swimming. I feel like a pale crayfish with cold claw-like fingers and feet. I think of the crabs and small fishes that I see here in the summer time hiding in the folds of the rocks and kelp. 

I crawl around in the pool with the water up to my chin. I can see the white waves boiling and flailing beyond the rocks to the West, but the round pool is barely ruffled by the wind. In my memory I cannot see even the ripples that the wind raises on the heavy, still water. I stumble out. My body and hands feel fine but my feet are numb and that makes it hard to balance on the shifting rocking stones. I am tripping, stumbling, awkward, blundering.

I dress slowly and climb the rock wall again to look over at the blue lagoon. I crouch slightly out of the wind to look, and as I do I see the end stub of a rainbow behind the Brisons. Which feels like a gift, or a present. In the present. It means rain coming fast though, so I look for a minute feeling completely blank then I creak myself upright and clamber back up toward the cliff, over the small loose pebbles, and over the fixed humpy rock floor toward my shoes. As I walk I think of writing this, and how I am only writing it for myself, otherwise I could share it - but then I risk transforming my experience and my desires. I might warp them in the knowledge that I would direct them outwards, and that might cut them off from the root of why I do this - which is entirely solipsistic. 

Pulling on my sodden muddy socks and shoes I start back home. The wind almost blows me along the path up the valley. It’s fun.

In fact it didn’t really rain, but the wind grew more ferocious the nearer home I got - wind singing in the wires by Sim’s house, a hollow sound. As I pass the ducks behind their gate Wind is rattling the tarpaulin someone has used to line their shed. Wind screaming and whining, tugging at me angrily. I run as fast as I can, out of breath. I blow my nose the way runners do. When I do this quick practical snort I remember that in October the small pale jellyfish dead on the rocks looked like gobs of snot.

Inside I slam the door on the wind, and the second door. I wash my shoes and pack them with newspaper, peel off my wet clothes and drop them in the machine to wash later, and only then have a shower. The warm water is blank on my back but excruciating when it runs across my toes. They are so cold I can’t stand the jump in temperature. I hurriedly get out and dress, putting on the men’s down-filled boots I bought in LA last winter. They are two puffy sleeping bags of soft warmth. Of course nobody had bought them. Men’s small size down boots. In LA it can never be under 14 degrees, so they would have no purpose at all. It’s almost lunchtime now and I’m still wearing them. 

I won’t use those free shoes for running when it’s cold and wet. Also I must not have breakfast before I run. I ate 45 minutes before I ran, but it still made my stomach feel odd.