Summer Love-In: Any Other Summer, Part I

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm spoiling you today. No, seriously - consider yourselves very lucky indeed. Because today you are getting not just one post; not even two; but THREE beautifully written, achingly honest pieces from three of my favourite internet ladies. I'm talking about Clare, Aisling and Anna K, otherwise known as the talented trio behind [Top 5 UK Wedding Blog according to Elle Magazine!] Any Other Wedding.

Those of you who have been reading a safe mooring for a while might recall that AOW was kind enough to feature me as part of In Her Own Words, their amazing collaboration with Angie of One Cat Per Person in celebration of International Women's Day. Then I popped up again a few weeks later, ranting and raving about the myth of perfection that persists in western wedding culture. Oh and then I was back AGAIN, with my Any Other Photo. So it seems only fitting to dedicate three whole posts to them in return.

The Any Other Wedding girls have taken my loose "summer" theme and turned it into a very special series of posts examining not just any summer, but THAT summer - the summer that took you from a child to an adult, the one where you learned who you were, and perhaps gained a first glimpse into who you might become. The summer that made you, you.

First up, the gorgeous Aisling.

Image (not of Aisling) by Lucy Stendall Photography

Cow Bay, Cape Tribulation in Queensland, Australia. One of the few places in the world where the rainforest meets the ocean. A lush, impossibly green, dangerous and enchanting ecosystem sloping gently down an imperceptible gradient to a world where, under water clearer than you’ve ever seen, the colours are unbelievable. Literally (and I don’t use the word lightly, I promise) unbelievable. Colours that you have no name for, no recollection of seeing ever before. It’s a place of such unlikely contrast and jarring beauty that it confuses the brain and the eyes and the mouth doesn’t even stand a chance. When your senses are utterly incapable of digesting such impossible surroundings, your mind seeks out that which it can understand. Perhaps you decide that now, in this surely imaginary paradise, is the time to address the overflowing ‘in-tray’ in your brain. This is what happened to me, one summer, 7 years ago. 

When you’re 17 and on your own on the opposite side of the world to your anchors - your parents, your friends, the envelope containing your A Level results - the world seems awfully big. It seems like you are the only person on the planet to ever have left something behind in pursuit of...of...of what exactly? I was 17. It’s not like I was putting a career or a relationship on hold to ‘find myself’. I had no grand ambitions to pick grapes for a season, to incubate emu eggs, to learn to water-ski. I wasn’t sent away, it wasn’t a freebie-trip-of-awesomeness funded by my parents. So what was it? 

The summer I spent on Australia’s East Coast was a gift. Literally and metaphorically. My 18th birthday present from my entire family and the summer in which I regained a vital part of myself, a part that had been missing since almost forever. The part that knew, really knew, that I was never to blame for my father walking out on my mother and I when I was only months old. Nor the 6 further occasions when it was just my tiny, fragile heart he broke. That summer I realised I’d known all along that neither I, nor my mother, was at fault. That sometimes, no-one is at fault. That blame and fault and sadness are ruinous. That it’s best to let go. To look forward. There, where the rainforest meets the ocean, I was finally whole.

{Psst: Don't forget to check in later today for the equally brilliant posts from Anna K and Clare}

10 boats moored

  1. Beautiful, but I would expect no less from our Aisling xxx

  2. Eeeek, this looks EVEN BETTER on a proper blog than it did in a Word document when we were frantically pulling everything together!

    Aisling, I know I have said this before and sorry to keep on about it but this is evocative and haunting and perfect. Really. Quit your day job, and WRITE.

  3. Lovely. I wanted this to go on for paragraphs more - what happened?! :)

  4. As in, what happened in Australia, not why didn't you write paragraphs more.

  5. Wow. Stunning writing Aishling - I'm right there, sitting next to you in Australia listening to you say those words.

    You should write a book. I would read that book. xx

  6. Rosie (aka Kirsty's Mum)15 June 2011 at 10:34

    Beautiful - your final paragraph brought tears to my eye. Not only because I felt sad you had hung on to blame about things outwith your control, but just for the general thing that we all feel guilty without reason. Can't wait for the next one...

  7. Ahhh, thank you so much all. It was incredibly cathartic writing this and it's amazing to see it so well received, it means an awful lot.

    Rachel-maybe I'll write more about Oz back at AOW!

    Rosie, you're an idol of mine, I'll be honest. I'm sorry that I made you sad and I think you're wonderful. Guilt is a complicated emotion, for sure.

    Love to all x

  8. Wow, what a beautifully written piece. I second the wonderful Anna K's words and plead you to quit the day job and write x


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