We retreat back into the arboretum, following the less trodden paths. We read labels pinned to bark in the hope to learn more about trees, but I know I will forget most of them by the time we get home. I am too overwhelmed to concentrate and learn. Here, in the arboretum, I feel alive in a way I do not at home. I can breathe freely, my mind expanding with each steps taken, thoughts drifting, forming, slipping, gathering. Not much else matter than the fact that I am here, alive, and steady, secure around these trees both old and young.
Dinner finished, I head back upstairs to the study to focus on my pinhole camera. I have time to relax and stay on the sofa with my partner but there is an urgency that pushes me to keep working. Soon I will have to go back to work and time will be reduced to dedicated chunks at either side of the day.
A headache is growing on the left side of my face as I pour chemicals and invert the developing tank. It has nothing to do with what I’m doing. I know this headache, it comes every month. First it creeps behind my left eye before descending to my jaw, settling there in a dull constant ache.
My chest tightened and tears welled in my eyes in the following days every time I thought about Brexit. I felt empty and lost, rejected by a country I so fiercely love. I had fought to come here, I had fought to stay here. I came crawling and wounded to London ten years before and had risen to become the person I am today. And all of that meant nothing at all because I was foreign now, not of here, other.
I close my eyes and rest letting my thought drift away from me. It has been a long week filled with turmoils and doubts, unaided by my body getting ready for my period. I think of all that has happened, of racism and Brexit, of the trip to Berrow sands and the tears I cried, of the stress on my shoulders and the restlessness of my mind, of the walk in Westonbirt Arboretum and the release I found, of Queer Out Here and the voices of people in the outdoors, of…
The shutter closed I stare at the paths, my feet glued to the spot and yet itching to go, to walk on, follow the arrows through the countryside until it is time to get back to work. It doesn’t matter that I have no gear with me, that no pubs are open for a rest, and that I am wearing slightly too big sandals on my feet. I want to go, to walk, to disappear into this English landscape I have come to love.
All day, I walk around the house groggy. I fall asleep on the sofa after lunch but this has not cleared my headache. Under the cover of rest, it has grown in intensity, making the right side of my face throbbing. I swallow some paracetamol and return to bed in a vain attempt for sleep.