West Wittering

inspired by Sarah Kaye’s ‘Montauk’

I’m a city girl to the core
Born and raised in London
But London, it can’t teach you everything
Because London isn’t West Wittering

My father gets one week off from work every year
And as soon as July rolls in, the heat goes up and we fit
Everything in a tiny car and head out
To the shores of West Wittering

This is where I learnt to swim, where I learnt how it feels to
Have sand between your toes, where I learnt to wish on stars
To do cartwheels, to drive the parking lot of a hardware store

Because when it comes to West Wittering, time stalls

I’m 6 years old and my brother is 10, we’re swimming in the ocean
Well, he is. I’m just standing there, waist deep in water watching him,
Swimming around, facing the big waves
Oh, I wish I could be like him

I feel something crawl on my foot, next thing you know
I’m yelping in pain. It turned out to be a crab bit, I remember my brother
Told me not to cry, that summer, I learnt not to cry
Each time I get hurt

I’m kicking sand at 13, my brother of 17 is with friends
He doesn’t have time for me and I can’t seem to find anyone my age
I spend time behind books, I spend time
Discovering things I never could with someone else
And that summer, I learnt to enjoy my own company

At 16, I was given an allowance for the week long trip and I
Managed to run out in 3 days, gravely upset for the next 4 days
I looked at all the junk I had bought
I didn’t even need all those things
That summer, I learnt the value of money

There are somethings you cannot learn in London
There are some places where fishnets don’t mean stalkings
Where the learning happens in between
The moments that have passed
The moments that have been
There are some places like West Wittering

When I go back to it, time stalls yet again
The landmarks are the same
The parking lot of the hardware store is still there
Some faces have changed
But the beach hasn’t

It’s the same ocean that has been
The same sand that has been
The same place that has been
West Wittering.

 

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