By elsie katz
I walk out into the biting blue sky and spiky winter-tree green of Bruntsfield Links, my gloved hands in my pockets, my black beanie pulled down to ward off sore ears. Marching to catch the Hogmanay bus from Tollcross to the beach, I feel relaxed and stretched from waking beside another this morning, my body now alert to catch the forecasted Supermoon.
As I round the narrow corner of four-story tenements I think of the three who meant the most to me, the he’s and the she all older, all more firmly situated in the their lives and their convictions, they all had specs with a strong prescription and how I scurried behind like a randy little sister, chasing closeness.
Showing my pass and climbing the stairs of the maroon vehicle I watched us cut along the back roads, bypassing the tired commerce of Princes Street. As we clip past the old stone and new glass where the Infirmary had been I think of the woman in the shop, who – what was her name was it Laura or Jean and was the shop Antiquary, or New Age, I saw the posters, the almost Tarot imaged poster colours, clean lines, cups and horns, people-statues caught in motion. What was the name of the place was it Experience or the Ideal Stores?
Rattling fast past the school and the swimming bath of early motherhood we turn the corner. The upstairs deck collects a longhaired lad and his hound, two punks and a white-haired lady, her shopping wheelie overspilling with budget tins of peaches, I want to read the meanings before we leave the safety of Town.
I bought a card from that shop, my glove scratches tight snotted tissues and a knot of gum, must have left it in my other jacket pocket.
We travel through the schemes past the neighbourhood law centres and my old place where a rock exploded though my double glazing. Now we round onwards to the beach landmarked by the deserted Nessie rollercoaster and the birthday trip where I sheltered my child and her friends from relentless weather in the funpark and arcade, sharing chips.
The others got off before the last stop, I never saw them leave.
Thanking the driver I walk back through a side lane and into a tiny park. The sun is reddening the roofs and circular open landings. I have no idea of what I am doing. Lucky-dipping my pocket again I fish out a long key on a Saint Christopher and a small black notebook spattered with stars and – my goodness Elsie’s in charge now!
Luminous blue before the dark carpets my running strides to the sea. Winter’s open and no longer cold so ripping off my layers I run free into the splashy water. Gulls and gannets wheel and swoop, sparklers and rockets shoot stars, cascade mauve, green, gold plumes. The edgy melodic beauty of a violin soars above the rousing graze of bagpipes and the torso bass of heavy rock from the platform further out to sea.
I see the others from the bus directly in front, I was the last to arrive.
And here we all are, jumping and hopping bobbing and splashing, swimming in the wonderful water all happy, all friends all having The Time Of our Life.
(And I don’t know how to get back again to the place of crowded Life and bliss, but what I know is this. It is there inside out heads and it is also a plan, a solid blueprint that we can make real. It is there for each and every one of us).
The closest name I can give it – a busy ground that encompasses and is bigger than Disco.