Ruth in York

Postcard from York

Hello again!
It’s been many, many years since I was here and it has changed in a natural way. I find myself knowing exactly which roads take me where and it’s even more splendid than I remember.
I have walked the walls and peeped into the hidden gardens below, listened to the perfection of the choristers singing evensong in the Minster, walked the riverbanks and reminded myself of the wonderful student days I spent here.
I am staying a couple more nights as I have a few more treasures to unearth and forgotten lanes to wind down. Then on to Harrogate for the flower show I think.
More as it happen.
With regards, Ruth.

The guest house nestled beneath the sweeping splendour of the Minster was perfect for Ruth. She could hear the bells from her open window and voices of the early Summer tourists who never really left the city’s streets. She felt welcome yet apart at the same time.
She had met him here, in this magnificent city with it’s oldness and history and stories to tell and songs to sing. One day, decades ago now, during the festival, she was taking part in a student production of The Tempest. He had come to see it with his friends and they all seemed to end up in the same pub together afterwards. The fact that she had spotted him in the audience and he had spotted her too, had had a lot to do with her leading her friends to the pub she saw the men disappear into.
When he died she hid.
Oh yes… her friends knew where to find her and her sons were never far from her, but she hid.
She didn’t eat much, or think about her clothes or her hair or her usually careful make up or listen to the radio or music. She hid. If he returned she would be here…to welcome him home. Her head knew it was nonsense but her heart didn’t quite believe it. She sat by the window, looking at the garden but seeing nothing as her head was too, too full of William and how she could begin to live her life without him.

Breathe.

She survived his funeral by hiding between her sons Tom and Ben. She survived the sympathy of those who knew her by hiding behind an English composure. She survived his echoing absence by … well she couldn’t survive it… she merely lived it.
York was good to her. It reminded her that William had been real. It reminded her that the memories were kept safe amongst the sunlight and shadows. And she went to the pub. That pub. She sat at a corner table where they had first spoken. Glass of wine and open but unread book in front of her. He had loved her. She had loved him.

In the bathroom mirror later she looked at herself. Her almost totally grey hair was longer than it had been for many years and pinned loosely up. Her eyes looked clear but lonely. More wrinkles than she remembered and skin that had been free of makeup for many many months. She took off the Edinburgh sweatshirt which had been her comfort for quite a while and gently wrapped it in a bag and slid it to the bottom of her case. Yes it had been William’s gardening jumper and no she would never get rid of it but it was time for a change. The pastel checked shirt would be much cooler tomorrow. Yes.
She slept with peace.

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2 thoughts on “Ruth in York

  1. This is so poingnant and sad.
    I found your blog via John Z.
    I went to York on a school trip when I was 14. It is a smashing city, very much like where I came from, Chester. Though I now live in Johannesburg…which is just a bit farther south!

  2. I guess it is…just a bit !
    Yes…I like John’s blogs. He has some interesting angles on things I agree with. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. You will hear more from Ruth as she travels. I just need to put together her reports from the next stage of her trip.

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