I wrote this post on 21st of February 2021. That is 9 weeks ago. 62 days ago. 1,488 hours ago.
I am back in Hope Valley, with 9 weeks of memories and emotions, 62 days of knowledge and 1,488 hours of building on myself sitting in the seats besides me. There is so much at my back, and so much at my feet. I was confident when I sat on this train, and now I am humble. There is so much love in the world.
I had a beautiful train journey. It really was stunning. These train tracks are my favourite stretch, cosiness in between my homes from homes. The beauty is such that my eyes glance around at all the windows, excitement rippling thorugh my spine when I begin to see the soft curvature of the mountains.
My excitement is such that I end up hurting my neck from twisting it, craning it to look up at their peaks.
I always look at this landscape unfolding around me, and wish I could lay on it. A beautiful hill supporting my neck, as clouds whisper and tickle my nose. My feet pushing away mountains in their efforts to nest and be comfy. My hands would gently play with the trees, unbeknownst to me, pulling them out from their roots with each brush of a fingertip.
This image is so tantalising to me. I can picture it so clearly, that all I want is for it to be real. But just as I dream of it, I am whisked beneath a tunnel, underground to the strum of an ancient heartbeat.
The light assaults my senses, after I inevitably remember too late that you are meant to hold your breath under a bridge to avoid bad luck. The light greets me just as I sternly tell myself not to be so superstitious, and my eyes widen at the trees above me.
They reach up to the sky in a way that always makes me think of an ancient witch in the middle of casting a spell, yet for some reason, she turned to stone. All her power, her glory, and her energy frozen in gnarled fingers and jaunty pointed elbows.
I see a horse roll on its back happily. I see a sign slip past almost insignificantly until I read the words “Hope Valley”. I see graffiti of “What do you really believe in?” go past almost so quickly that I can’t distinguish letters. I sit and I think. What do I believe in?
I want to reach over and tell someone to look. Anyone really. The cleaner wipes down the seat behind a girl. In between spraying her bottle, her eyebrow arches as she looks at what the girl is doing. The girl has her legs gently folded beneath her, and her ears are plugged in with music, voices, characters. Her eyes are fixed on the pixels of her phone.
My eyes search further along the train, and pick out a middle-aged lady talking loudly on her phone about her daughters’ relationship.
My shoulders sag from the belief that I am a foreign entity hurtling through the countryside to another place where I am a foreign entity. I force myself to sit up straight, and spend the rest of the journey listing things that are similar to me and the people on the train. Blue eyes for example, was a commonality.
The trees gently whisper to ears that have not tried to listen in a long, long time. I whistle past them and see the birds talking to them. I wish I could understand.
As my favourite stretch ends, the land slowly begins to level, and I find myself steaming up the glass before me trying to get that one last glimpse of the trees, and behind them, the mountains. Soon it all slips away.
I feel sad and numb, but I know I have Hope Valley, rolling horses and hidden messages to look forward to every day from now on.
I hope you visit Hope Valley, whatever it looks like for you.
A Song For You: Monster, Tom Odell – All you need is to be loved.