Again with the simplified life stuff. When I don't have steady stream of distractions, of stimuli, it makes the experiences I do have that much more amplified.
This weekend for example.
On Saturday, Joel and I took a break from studying medicine/ editing comics (really, which one of us is going to make a difference in this world?) and caught the train into Leeds. I love Leeds. I really do. It is so vibrant and gritty and bustling. It has this buzz, this big-city vibe that York lacks. We wandered around the shops looking for a winter coat for J, and then went to the Christmas market. It was dark by then, and absolutely jammed with people. We had steaming cups of hot honey mead, which was sweet and alcoholic, and then we stood by a ledge and wolfed down German burgers and fried potatoes. Somehow food always tastes better when it's made right in front of you and then eaten outside, in the midst of a colourful crowd.
We got beers at Vodka Revs, and then made our way to First Arena. We had tickets to see Vampire Weekend, and I was excited because it had been a few months since I had seen a big show. Plus, I loved their new album, and wanted to dance. Standing in the crush of people for hours, with the lights, the giddy, close-to holy feeling you get when they play a favourite song, the way you almost feel like fainting when the lights shine in your eyes and then flick upwards, the numbing bass that makes the hairs on your arms stand up...
The show was fantastic.
I felt sensitive to every wave of sticky humid heat from the people touching me on all sides. I could feel the breath on the back of my neck from the person behind me, and welcomed it, because I was hot and sticky too. We jittered and shimmered in the semi-dark, like atoms of one big, collective molecule, and every sense was overloaded and overflowing.
You are left with a sort of high when the show ends. Your throat hurts, and your ears are ringing, and your legs are sore from standing for so many hours, but the exhilaration takes a while to fade.
On Sunday night, my mother dragged me to this thing at York Minster called Transcendence. She said it was odd, but good. A good strange. A nice weird.
And it was.
Being in the Minster after dark, once it is closed to the tourists, the building takes on a different feeling. It feels much more old. More sacred, more like a place of worship than a tourist attraction. The shadows seem blacker and the pools of light from candles seem smaller. There were about 40 of us, and after a time of music in the Chapter House we were encouraged to wander to 3 different prayer stations. One was in front of the Screen of Kings. I counted 15 of them, and I couldn't help but be reminded of the part in The Magician's Nephew where Digory and Polly find themselves in front of a line of wax statues of the rulers of Charn. Just as in the story, each King seemed to be a little weaker, a little stupider, and eventually a little crueller, than their predecessor. I could feel C.S. Lewis' words come alive in my head.
Another prayer station was in the crypt. To get to the crypt, you had to wander down a dark hall lined on either side with the tombs of Archbishops and Important People from history. One of the oldest ones I saw belonged to a boy about the size of a 13 year old, and on it it said "Little Prince William". There was a miniature lion lying by his feet. Once you reached the entrance of the crypt you had to light a candle and take it down with you. The ceiling was low, and there were a couple of people in robes, chanting and swinging a silver bowl full of incense. I didn't stay long.
I explored other dark halls, with doors leading off them and the ceiling so high you couldn't see it. I eventually stopped and sat on the steps beside a pool of light coming from a room in the centre, where there were 4 young people singing some ancient hymn. There was such a feeling of magic, as if there was a veil between worlds and it was blowing, swaying, letting little motes of otherworldly dust into the air.
I don't know if I would have been surprised if some angel or ghost had appeared. I felt thin, myself, as if I could have slit the air with a knife and disappeared like Lyra or Will.
Spiritual and mysterious. Otherworldly.
I am glad I went.
waiting for Vampire Weekend.