Returning to the same places year after year has the effect of making us watch those ghosts of our old selves as they walk around. They look different, they feel different, but they're part of us.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been visiting the Northumberland coast at least once a year for a long while. The last time Gav and I went for a walk on Spittal Beach to take photos, I was almost sixteen weeks pregnant with Rory. Its funny thinking back to those kinds of memories, and even weirder looking back at the pictures. Me without Rory. I can't imagine anything without her now, and not just daily life, but who I am to my core. My Rory, this little red headed pixie of happiness who I have a borderline addiction to. Her smell, her laugh, all of her funny little ways. And her kisses, oh her kisses. This beach holds so many echoes of our past selves; from the first time we visited as a couple almost eight years ago, through the cold January two years ago a few weeks before I miscarried my first pregnancy, and to this year when we brought 13 month old Rory to show her the waves.
It's crazy how the years pass, you think in some way you know what they hold for you and even that you have some sort of control over how they pan out. And perhaps with the little things you do, but the big things? It all could have been so different. There was almost no Rory. There was almost a some-body else. It's strange to feel grateful for things that were so hard and painful, things that you think you've processed every aspect of and then you sit down to write a blog post about a beach and all this stuff comes out. I think it's just the hugeness of that thought, that there was so nearly no Rory, that gets me as I'm writing this.
Well, the first part of this post went somewhere unexpected...! Sometimes you force the words when you write, and other times things just spill out of you from deep recesses of your mind. It's weird in there, huh?
Taking Rory to see the beach, the sea and the waves was special. We did bring her here when she was about three months old, but it's so different when they are that little. I don't think I came out on the beach either, the weather was pretty bad and I was in the throes of terrible nights with a tiny baby. I remember struggling to even open my eyes in the morning I was so tired. This time felt like the first time. I could point things out to her, and make her laugh by pretending the waves were going to get us, screaming as I ran away from them. She loved pointing at Elkie and trying to say dog, her cheeks rosy from the North Sea wind. That girl.
These pictures are a mixture of two dusky evenings on the beach. One where I went by myself, to try to get a photo of the waves crashing agains the rocks at the far end that appear when the tide is out. I didn't manage to get the picture I wanted, but I spent a very magical and eerie hour dodging the waves, trying to go further out into the sea as the tide was going away from me. Because the sun doesn't set over this beach, but opposite it, you get the weirdest blue hue in the sky in the evenings. It felt like I was on another planet, there wasn't a soul around by the time I was ready to head back in and the sun had gone way down behind the houses. I got caught out by a big wave at one point and had to leap onto the rocks for safety, trapped there for a few minutes until the water level subsided.
The other pictures, with Rory in them, were taken on our last evening in Berwick. I realised I hadn't shot any photos of her with my DSLR the whole time, and I wanted to capture us showing her the sea for the first time. I teach Gav to shoot like I do, and set the camera up for him so he can get us while we're moving around. It's always the real smiles I'm after, they're hard to get when you're standing still. He is getting so good, don't you think? We put her on the swings in the playpark by the beach, she loved them so much. In the Summer the park and beach are full, the kiosk is open and there's a water park with a huge slide and jets of water everywhere for the kids to run through. I can't wait to see the fun she is going to have next year.
That photo of Rory on the swing is so blurry, but I don't care because I love it. She's so happy, and that's her.