Sunday 14 March 2021. Morning

Ship sailing in the distance. Photo by Jessica Zarins, 2019.
Ship sailing in the distance. Photo by Jessica Zarins, 2019.

Yesterday was my best day in ages. Finally a day where I felt like I did something new, experienced something. And all within current recommendations and rules. I got to go with my housemate to their vaccination in Bury St Edmonds, the historical Suffolk market town where they’re from and still NHS registered. I visited the Abbey Gardens with its ancient ruins, playgrounds and bird houses, bought cider and cheese from the market, and had a bagel and tea in town. Thank goodness the queue to the vaccination was long. Then I slept like a child in the car on the way home.

In the night I dreamt that the pandemic was over, and I’d rented a boat for a holiday at sea. The person who worked there and got my boat ready for me, was my old boyfriend who I haven’t seen or heard from in years. I was suitably professional around the transaction, while suitably bitter and impolite, not unlike what I’d probably be like in reality. But he was curious, practical, even somewhat kind and apologetic – in other words nothing like he’d be in reality.

We went through a bazaar of white and gold garments and spices and sounds, jumped over cats and ducks out onto the pontoon. He told me about his life too, and everything was as I’d suspected (unhappy, unsuccessful, recently broken up with his latest girlfriend), which pleased me. It was getting darker, from blue to purple to black, while he showed me the boat and how to run it successfully. I was surprised that he knew so much; I’d always known more about boats than him. And he doubted my abilities now. He wanted to teach me the most basic things, in the patronising way of someone who still thinks of the other as a lost kitten with no past experience and no future direction. I hated him for thinking this about me, but still lapped up all his advice as I realised that I don’t have a boat licence, and had actually just booked this holiday because I knew he worked here. I had wanted to see him, and more importantly I had wanted him to see me going on holiday and manoeuvring a boat by myself. But what I showed him was different to what I felt. I still wanted his advice and his knowledge, and I really wanted his attention. I woke up before I left him and the harbour on the boat.

The person I dreamt of came along at a time in my life when I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new direction, but he certainly gave it just that, and new meaning. He awoke and started something in me that was already there, but which I doubt I had taken as seriously without him. Knowing him also awoke a lot of pain; a high price for creativity. But I’m now working on my second novel, set on a boat at sea, a project which is difficult to launch and navigate during the pandemic, while working full time. I don’t want his advice or his direction, I know I can complete it and enjoy it on my own. But having gotten stuck last week, maybe my subconscious gave me his image (as resplendently handsome as when I first knew him) not as advice or direction, but as angry spark to stoke up my creative flames again. If I’m struggling to finish the project for myself, then I’ll finish it to show him – the doubter the cheater the superior – that I can bring this project back to shore myself.

Revenge prose.

Glory in approaching storm, Atherinos Bay, Meganissi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Glory in approaching storm, Atherinos Bay, Meganissi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

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