(Written in October 2021)
My legs are aching.
My legs are aching from climbing 169 steps today up the lighthouse at Dungenness in Kent. My legs are aching from climbing up and then, as if dealing with the vertigo of climbing up the spiral around the widening gulf of empty space beneath us to a very hard floor wasn’t enough, having to climb gingerly down again, holding onto Levi’s hand under the pretence that he needed hand holding, though really it was I who did, squeezing his little appendage only just short of hurting him probably, poor sausage, though he didn’t complain. My legs are aching from crouching down almost at his level to get alongside him as we inched down step by step for what felt like an eternity; down the eternal spiral; the bottomless pit only a wobble and a tip over the precipitous railings that my other hand stuck to with electric glue. One does not long allow the notions one might entertain about what could happen were a railing to give way, or a careless foot to slip. One simply counts, looks at one’s feet, looks at the wall, and prays.
We made it to the bottom where the lady who had gained our £13 entrance fee in a ten pound note and lots of change waved a US quarter at us and without so much as a ‘how was it?’ telling us we’d given her a 25 cents instead of a 10 pence. On one level, I was stumped that it was worth her chasing us for this while a queue of customers waited outside to pay; but I sure was glad to get that quarter back. It’s my ticket to the US someday. And yeah she can have the full £13, Laura had another 10p. Although really, £12.90 wouldn’t have been okay? Bless her Lord, I’m sorry. I can’t talk. I’ve been worrying about money all holiday.
And I know I shouldn’t. But after spending that £13, plus £35 on spontaneous train rides on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railways, not to mention a little extra spending money on souvenirs, I stood on the beach which was our final stop before heading home, watching my little family stomping about in the sand and jumping over the encroaching waves, spending hours digging lines and making castles and collecting shells and then doing it all over again, and I realised, holidays might be costly, but the memories are priceless. And some of the most valuable memories will be things you didn’t pay a penny for. (Or a quarter.) Those memories we can bring home with us to keep and treasure forever.
I brought something else back with me too. A shard of driftwood caught my eye as I wandered along the front to look at some of those miniature seafowl that hop along the sand pecking for food in the shallows. Ordinarily I might have left the bark there wishing I’d taken it with me; this time, I just grabbed it, didn’t think about it, and took it with me. It’s now sitting in our porch to dry out. I might make it into a sign of some kind; maybe suspend it with string or something. I’m a creative; I make what I can with what’s in front of me. And it caught my eye. So that’s what I’ll use. Again, no ‘value’, but discovered worth.
Anyway. My legs are aching.