On Wednesday I got a yearning. A yearning to be somewhere other; a yearning to get the world under my feet and to keep walking until I ran out of road. To get out into the country and lose myself in a place where there was no one else. Even at the height of noon, the sun was a wan and sickly thing, barely punching through the swaddling of fog and ice, the temperature never rising above zero. It was the kind of weather which leeches the colour out of everything and leaves the world a perfect glass twin of itself; another, more perfect world; a world where hedges are draped with a filigree with frozen cobwebs; were fat wood pigeons and collared doves peck at frozen earth and shaggy coated horses nibble at the knife blades of frost coated grass.
I walked until my face started to burn and the air started to feel like daggers in my chest. I walked until I couldn’t feel anything and I took on a comforting numbness of mind, body and soul. I walked until I felt tired and just didn’t care; until my mind was empty of all thoughts other than the now, not the whens, the laters, or the yesterdays. As the weak sun began to edge down towards the horizon I turned round and headed home, having finally run out of road and finding myself in a completely different county. Safely back in my flat I donned my pyjamas, cranked the heating up to 25 and made myself a cup of tea, letting the warmth spread through my body and my limbs, to make every inch of my skin itch as the feeling came back to it. And for perhaps just a little while I was content.
Ordinarily I’m happy to just stay at home, close the curtains and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. But on Wednesday I was restless, something about the way the world looked drew me out, it called to me; it reminded me of home, or at least an idealised memory of home. It was the kind of weather I feel comfortable with, cold I can deal with; cold, although not my friend, has at least reached an equitable understanding with me. I felt it was a day I had to spend at least a portion of out in the wilds otherwise it would have been a waste. So I upped and left with no plan, no destination, just an urge to walk. As Tolkien once wrote “It’s a dangerous business, …going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
The down side to this unexpected journey is that I now know that I am within walking distance of the M25.