Image: Moonrise over Glastonbury Tor, Samhain 2015. Credit: Pan Avalon.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time, lately.
It’s largely to do with the thinning of the veil at this time of year. I seem to feel it thinning far more tangibly this time than I ever have before as we approach Samhain and make the descent into the introspective season of winter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve made the conscious decision to think more carefully about my path. Perhaps it’s because other changes in my personal life are afoot, bringing old feelings and memories to the fore.
‘Time moves in circles, and can leave you anywhere…’ So sings Martha Wainwright in her moving lament, ‘Don’t Forget’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEUV-M9TSnk). The strong sensory memories invoked by the changing of the seasons – particularly at autumn – makes it feel uncannily like we’re moving through time in a spiralling movement, always coming back to a similar point, layered so closely on top of the previous year. But no matter how much we’d like to, we’re never quite able to reach the autumns that have gone before. They’re just beyond the veil – tantalisingly beyond our touch – but so close that we can feel them whispering through.
It’s not just the changing of the seasons that makes me nostalgic and thoughtful at this time of year. I began a relationship with my first love in the falling leaves of October. He was killed as the summer died away, in that September when the world went dark after 9/11. He was just 17 years old.
Recently, there have been movements towards a new inquest around the deeply suspicious circumstances of his death. Whilst I welcome finding out what happened, this has also forced me to examine thoughts and feelings that have lain dormant (more or less) for over 15 years. Possibly as a result of this, combined with a season that reminds me of him so much anyway, I’ve started to dream about him again. In one of my dreams, he came back and interrogated everyone who knew anything about his death. I woke up with a feeling of certainty about who had vital information to help the inquest. This weekend, whilst on a train, I caught a hint of his distinctive scent. I looked around, puzzled, with heart racing – there was no one else on the carriage. I met with his brother for the first time in many years a few days ago, and found myself fascinated by a shared mannerism that took my breath away – so similar was it to my dead love, it felt like he was there – a presence at the table with us over brunch.
I’ve always imagined the workings of time, the phenomena that so cruelly dragged me away from him, as a merciless, unstoppable train that does not stop, and does not turn. It seems unconceivable that I am now 30, and he’ll always remain a golden-hearted boy of 17. However, my heart and instincts tell me now that time moves in a spiral (this has also been theorised by many cultures and religions). He feels close enough to touch as we move over a similar point in time again. As Samhain approaches, I am going to do my best to remain open; to reach across the veil and down through the spiral, and touch my long lost love.