So, I’m going through some stuff at the moment.

Big stuff, niggly little stuffs, life-changing stuff and stuff of nightmares.

There’s also some amazingly wonderful stuff too. Which, though marvellous, unexpected and joyous, adds to the general weight of stuff.

All that stuffing can get to feeling quite uncomfortable, like in the story of Fred Bear whose squeaker didn’t work because he was packed too tightly with stuffing.

Today, after a sleepless night mulling over some particularly annoying stuff, I swallowed it, and carried it around in my stomach. It was bulky, like a big stuff-baby pushing up on my diaphragm, a heft. I’ve heard about how some people carry stress in their stomach. I suppose this must be what causes ulcers.

Despite some gorgeous diversions in the shape of work, good friends, sunshine, delicious lunch and a chilled rosé, (on National Rosé day) by six pm I felt weary, and longed to birth my ten-pound stuff baby, but it was looking like it might be breach.

The evening sunshine danced playfully on the vivid lime leaves of the acer at the bottom of my little garden, and it beckoned me, sleepy and morose as I was, to come out and play.

In a kind of half-awake trance and as if led by some mystic force, a siren call perhaps, I found myself at the wheel of my car wearing a bikini under my clothes, beside me in the passenger seat was a basket containing a towel, an apple, a pair of sunglasses and my purse.

There was nothing for it, I needed the sea.

As I drove, the anticipation of an icy embrace from the North Sea offered a glimmer of respite from the heaviness. Undulating miles of Wolds tarmac lifted and swooped my little car closer to our goal in imitation of the sensation I was keenly anticipating, the rise, swell and roll of complete bodily submission to the waves.

I asked my phone for the 25 most-played songs in my music library, and as they boomed out from the car stereo, rear view mirror vibrating rhythmically to the bass, some of the stuff began to leak out, slowly at first. Forgotten lyrics that seemed suddenly so relevant slipped from my tongue, offloading emotion.

The glowing white turbines on the coast road soon rose up out of the horizon like a pop-up book. Seaside windmills of happiness that offered a fresh sense of perspective as I beetled my tiny insignificant self along the winding track beneath them, like a Lilliputian at their heels, their long slender evening shadows stretching towards the waves like pointers, ‘This Way’.

Like stragglers leaving the party, cars passed heading in the opposite direction, and as I parked up, a latecomer on the tussocky grass, I felt an affinity with those few die-hard beach goers, who were equally determined to squeeze out the very last magic drop of salt, sand and ozone this day had to offer. Warming drifts of their camper van stove suppers and the muted sounds of an indolent game of cricket down on the sand reassured me in a strange way, that I was safe and amongst friends.  

Like an eager lover in the throes of passion, I found a sheltered little cove in the low cliff and quickly undressed, enjoying at last the sea air on my skin like a shower of kisses, but the best was to come. Wading out into the tepid shallows, strands of the cooler waters from the wide open sea curled round my thighs, and as the wavelets lapped higher and eventually sloshed onto my bare belly it took away my breath in little gasps until I finally plunged my whole self joyfully into the silky water and pushed off the soft seabed into blissful immersion.

After a few long steady strokes out towards an invisible horizon dotted with flashes of brilliant white from faraway ships I eventually turned my head towards the shore and marvelled at how the low sun beamed its golden light in oblique rays through the peaks of each little wave behind me, lit up like translucent jade. Suddenly, all there was in the world was just me and the sea. I felt myself uncoil completely.

The stuffing was washed away, and where the heaviness had been dragging like a huge, embedded beach pebble I now felt a comfortable nothingness, a vacancy. A broad smile crept across my lips and I sighed deeply at the simplicity of this transaction. Thank you, Sea. Thank you.
















3 thoughts on “Unstuffing

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  1. This Blog is pure delight to me. And so much Me.

    Fortunately or otherwise I am a teensy bit OCD and so my Stuff has to behave itself and line up along with every other Stuff that intrudes on my life. Just get in line and I might think about it later.

    Real. Stuff? I’ve got loads of it. But it all does as I say. I wouldn’t be able to get in the door otherwise. So there is nothing wrong with a bit of OCD.. In fact, God save my soul.

    Swimming? I only ever did that in salt water. You are less likely to drown. And that is fact.

  2. I saw your blog post posted on the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Facebook page, and enjoyed reading it as I could relate. I have just sent it to my friend who is staying in a caravan on the Norfolk coast this week unstuffing I think! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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