dancing raspberries and empty trains

Do you remember?

You had been away for what seemed like an age. Your assignment was on its third extension.  We had been apart over a year. You wrote me a letter. It has stayed with me, always.

I treasure these passages, in particular – they are pages from our love’s holy book.


My love, the distance between us is but a single breath. Think of this…

Empty train

When I was working in London, traveling into the city by over-ground train and then tube, the carriages got more and more packed as we got closer to the center.  Most of the commuters were office workers or people from businesses that supported the legal, banking, accounting world. But there were also some inner city residents getting their kids from one area to another, to get to school. I will never forget this one day.

It was a packed train. We pulled into a station. On the platform, an African woman stood holding the hand of a tiny boy in school uniform. He was probably no more than 7. His little face was so anxious, daunted by the wall of human bodies confronting him when the doors opened. But his mother was serene, majestically calm and self-possessed. She said to her tiny son, ‘there is no-one on the train – step on’. 

Most people faced with a crammed carriage just throw themselves in, step on your toes, bash the backs of your legs with their bags. This woman seemed to create a world of possibility with her words. Her mind. She had a grace. Time moved at her pace. They stepped onto the train. Space just appeared. I knew that young boy had a compass he could sail by, always.

The world is what you think it, my love. And when another soul is as deeply entwined with you as we each are, it is literally everything, whatever the circumstances of our life and whatever the physical proximity or distance. I too struggle with us having been apart for so long. But when I struggle, I think of what that regal African mother would say to me: ‘What do you mean? You go to bed with this woman every night. You wake with her everyday. Spend every waking moment with her. There is no distance between you – step into the day.’

Dancing raspberries

Being apart as long as we have, I know it might seem like we are sacrificing our life for work. That we are losing sight of what matters. But we are not, my love.  Yes, with what happened over here, the project had to be saved and that meant I’ve been away from home for longer than either of us ever imagined. But in some ways, being apart has enriched us. Our days are full of the poetry from the night before. The lines of our favourite poets that I read to you, before you sleep:

I’ll just tell you this: only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one

we keep what belongs to us

‘Think of chaos as dancing raspberries, imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty…never has the world seemed so fresh and precious…celebrate today’

I think of us having that delicate Chinese tea, sitting on a rug at sunset. Of us waking early and finding ourselves alone, deep in the woods before anyone is awake, kissing like the only lovers in the world, your bare skin in that soft-dappled light enough to make all of the gods weep at the beauty of their creation. 

I loved what you wrote, that you would give anything to hear your husband snore and your voice complaining. I miss you more than I can say. But we are living in rhythm, with each other and with something bigger. 

My darling, let the raspberries dance. We are part of a rhythm that there has always been, and we have a dance of our own.

Let’s celebrate today. Cherish each moment.

For soon I will be home. And we will be lost in our woods, once more. 


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