For the first time in my life I'm as far away from the sea as I have ever been. 174 miles east to the see, 110 miles west to the coast, 300 miles north to the wild sea's of Scotland, 192 miles south to edge of the channel. But I am the closest I have ever been to water. Stagnant, still, free from flowing water but 100 or so metres from me. A canal, dark, green, black with promises of canine bodies, shopping trollies, faces below the surface. It lies still. I could give it all up live a life rolled in salt and sand, surely if I really loved her, I would. Surely if I really wanted to I would. Surely there would be no guilt, no excuse about swimming. The sun brings out a longing for salt on the wind, and calls from gulls, wind whipping sand, the dirty cold.
My eyes dull, my skin aches at the end to end tiles of the pool. Gulls cries around hear and carried on winds of false promise that you are not as far inland as you'd thought. If I zoom out of myself, a google map of imagination, I can see, physically see, how far away I am. I lick my lips, in a hope for salt.
I listen to a book of the week on Radio 4, A Coastal Memoir by Tim Winton. An Australian who really knows his seas. Blue seas, white beaches, stuff of fantasy and snap shot memories to me. I am entranced by his words, by his writing of the sea, by his passion in trying to retain, some part of how the sea should be. Our waters, here in the British Isles dull in comparison. No threat of a fin, no dart of rainbow fish and strange creature.
And the tap in my bath is dripping constantly. A reminder that I need to contact the landlord, a reminder of the wasting of water, a pool of water building up in the bottom of my bath.
My finger itch to write, and my arms itch to swim, and my head longs to calm, and my body wants to move. I could cry with disappointment that this won't be in open water. I imagine myself on holiday, somewhere hot, somewhere foreign, somewhere unspoilt, I see myself swimming every day in the morning as the sun rises, shaking off the night before. The only one there. I worry about my lungs filling with salty water, about not caring if I'm up or down. Of my body floating. And swelling. Gulls pecking out my glassed out eyes. Seaweed in my hair.