Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Selkie rising

As I headed in to another event at the Edinburgh bookfest, and wiffling, as you do, the closer you get to going onstage, wiffling about everything and nothing in order to fill the gaping chasm between the private writer and the public Orfer. I recall that I was explaining that it's easier to swim in Loch Fyne at New Year than it is to go on stage and speak to hundreds of small children. The young woman organizing the children's book events suggested that perhaps I was more selkie than author, due to my obvious preference for wild swimming over wild weans. The idea went deep, hit some resonant nerve and tugged my thoughts off into a different direction from the oh-my-heavens-I-have-to-get-up-on-stage-and-be-wonderful kind of tailspin that they'd been in en route to the event.

I swam through the following two public events, then. Like the Bedouin saying about one's soul travelling as fast as a camel, here in Caledonia, perhaps our souls travel like seals. And besides, I'd rather be a seal than a camel any day. My compass is now firmly set to North and as the days tick past, I'm beginning to wonder what the taste of freedom might be.

Can't, for the life of me remember the flavour.

I was seventeen when I was last just me. Seventeen when I had my first little baby boy. Seventeen and totally unknowing of both myself and of what was out there. Now I'm forty-eight, not that much wiser, and like the selkie, I am about to cast off my assumed skin and swim back to the element from which I came. It's terrifying but at the same time, I am hastening towards it. The closer I come to leaving, the closer I feel as if I'm going to be swept up in an effervescent surge which is as exhilerating as it is irresistible.

On the other hand, I may spend the entire journey with my head over the ship rails giving it big rrrrrralphs.

No comments: