10 October 2010 – Underway on the Noorderlicht

I’m feeling pushed into this environment now. This morning I felt it coming on, as though the land itself had begun to thrust upward into my space. But I push the land aside: I’m getting more concerned with having time to read, to think, to devour all my books, to jot in my notebook, to fill it up. And to forget myself in the climb towards whatever sorrow or taboo, whatever bliss I can find.

These landscapes – which could terrify – calm me, excite me, take me away from my turmoil and my banality. In fact, they don’t offer me sublime connection, but a sublime absence from myself. And at the same time the adventure is an all-consuming homage to the self, an ego-trip. For what is the Wanderer standing alone above the sea of mist, if not an egotist?


Waiting for the bus to take us to the boat: it’s due now. So everyone is ready, literally hanging on expectation; there are suitcases and roadcases and camera bags and drybags piled up in the lobby, so thick you can barely get in the door. In the lounge, Tem is quietly playing guitar. Rebeca and Aimee are videoing the snow through the window. Some people are still on their laptops. I finally managed to upload a blog post after many attempts – the internet is so clogged from us all that it kept timing out. Final emails and Skype calls going on quietly in corners. Quite a few people are just sitting, staring out at the white flakes of future.

The snow’s beginning to gather in the grass – dry yellow and orange grass mapping the slope of the mountain at whose foot these shoebox buildings lie, hotch-potch and cosy. I’m trying to keep my head around the various bags I’ve accumulated, lying amongst piles of everyone else’s stuff – I don’t want to forget/lose anything. The sound of a deep engine pricks my ears up, and I notice other heads turning too – is it the bus, finally grinding up our road?

Snow is magical stuff – for me it is dreams, softness, a cold and gentle element that moves, at least today, slowly enough to pause the heart’s endless race.


The ship is slick with ice; the twilight is close. We’re away now, away to the north-west, pushing across silky water, across a lullaby swell. It’s made some people sick, but not me. I’ve placed each thing I brought with me in the place it will belong. It’s breezy up here on my top bunk, the porthole overhead ajar to help let out moisture. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This spot is my cubby and I’ve become a ten-year-old, possessive of my one private corner.

It’s dark outside, snowy and rainy, no moon nor stars. We’ve been warned about the jib sheets: their thrashing, flying widow-makers. But we’re not sailing yet. The engine thrums beneath us, and I realise the swell has subsided – we must have turned from the open fjord into a bay – it’s nearly the time we’re due to anchor for the night. We are living in one another’s pockets, Janet and me, but there’s already a system for where everything is, how we move around each other in our tiny cabin. The engine noise just changed, and changed again – it’s slowing, slowing – and almost stopped. Now we’re in reverse, and now we seem to be idling. I guess this means we’re ‘here’.