Why Did You Bring a Gun For a Walk…

So it’s 4:13AM 25th May and I’m sat here outside in the forest, cocooned in a sleeping bag, listening to the sounds of nature, I’m about to tell you how I got here, and then a little more after.

It’s Friday morning, or it was, when this story begun, I’ve been awake all night, I’d not long shared my new website, this one, onto my instagam, and I was hoping for the approval of some people.

I lay on floor questioning what I’m going to do with my day if anything, part of me wants to go out for a walk,I message my friend to see if she’s free to meet up she tells me she has to work, we chat briefly, I go back to thinking, this time I’m on my bed.I ask another friend if he’s free to do something, he tell me he has to pick his kid up from school at 3, but he’s free for an hour or so, he’s on his way to mine.

At this point my other friend from earlier messages me again asks me if I’d like a sandwich, I wasn’t really sure what this implied but I agreed because I am partial to a sandwich, about 20 minutes go by and my door knocks, I come downstairs she holds up two sandwiches and asks me which sandwich and drink I’d prefer, I tell her my preference, and she hands it over.
We hug, we’d not seen eachother in a few months due to both having stuff going on, we said we’d try to be there for eachother but there was the implication that no promise would be made, because of our own problems, but the thought was nice.
I thank her for the sandwich, she didn’t have to do that, it was a complete act of random kindness, she goes off to work and I close my door, I put the sandwich in the fridge, something to look forward to later.

I go back to my room, I open my curtains to try and brighten up the space, half of me is ready to just go for a walk but I kind of wanted to talk to someone not be alone with my thoughts.

Another friend rings me, asks me if I’d like to go camping for the weekend, without hesitation I say yes, this was exactly the kind of distraction I needed.

As I’m getting myself ready, my other friend arrives, he’s just got back from America and with him he bought me a kilogram bag off peanut butter M&Ms my favourite, that’ll last me less than a week, peanut butter is good for you right?

We converse, I show him some of my work I’m working on, he shares how he’s not having a great time lately, I understand him, he doesn’t stick around long.

So I’m getting ready, I’ve put some Ben Howard on to listen to it’s a little depressing but it resonates with me at that current moment, I pack what I need the bare minimal into my tiny bag my friend assures me he has everything else.

Eventually it comes time to leave, my friend is grabbing me from Brockenhurst train station, I check he’s running on time, he says he’ll be 5-10 minutes late, I don’t mind.
Cut to over an hour later I’m sat at Brockenhurst, my mate clearly does not know the meaning of time, I’m sat on the road side twiddling with an interesting looking twig I had found.

Eventually he rocks up apologizes, to be honest I wasn’t overly bothered just a minor inconvenience, we make our way to the campsite where we meet up with my friends partner, his son and his girlfriend, so in a way I was very much a third wheel here.

We set up our camp, cooked some food on the BBQ I’d bought some halloumi and mushrooms, which everyone went mad for, halloumi is king right?

We play with some bubbles, because we are real mature, some times you need to have a bit of fun, life is dull otherwise.

The night grows old, my friend is getting intoxicated, I don’t drink so I take my self to my bed, in the hopes I can sleep, I lay there and my brain is running wild.Shortly after my friends partner also retires to bed and begins snoring loudly, I decided I’m done if I can’t sleep I am most certainly not going to listen to this, I might as well sit outside.

I get outside and my friend who is wildly intoxicated by this point is still awake, he asks me to go for a walk, begrudgingly I agree, I’m not in a great mood by this point but clearly my friend needed it, it’s 1AM, it’s pretty dark, he asks me not to bring a light because it hurts his eyes, I bring one in my pocket incase we get lost anyways.

We start walking and talking, well I say that it was more stumbling and talking and the talking was more one sided, I listened to my friend, I mostly give one word answers because for the most part his content was tangential and I don’t have much more response in me.
He goes on to tell me how much he loves me a friend, and how I’d always been there.
We’d been friends nearly 10 years, me and him were very different but overall our ideals were similar.

He rambles on, and eventually we find a clearing in the trees and I look up to see the stars had finally come out, we both look at eachother in and unison say how beautiful it was, we stop and stare engrossed in its beauty, it was quite overwhelming.

My friend begins to cry, tells me how he has everything he wants now but he’s messing it up with sabotaging behaviours because he fears his past, he tells me he doesn’t deserve to be happy, he asks me to help him.
I place my hand on his shoulder and offer him support, I remind him how far he’s come and that I’ll help him through whatever he needs, the conversation repeats it self for a bit as we walk through the bushes ahead.

I understood my friend in this moment, I too was in a similar situation, I knew how hard it was for him to be vulnerable at that point with me.

At this point my friend pulls out a gun, and asks me to kill him, I immediately tell him to stop being ridiculous, I’m not doing that, we laugh and he says yeah sorry.
Not really sure what he expected anyways as it was just an air soft gun, it wouldn’t do any damage. Probably should have started with that last bit, but for a moment I bet you was like “ohhhh”.

We walk for a few more hours as my friend sobers up, we come back to our site and we sit and chat I grab my sleeping bag and blanket and plonk myself into a chair, whilst my friend plays with a toy lightsaber he has, eventually he retires to his tent, and snores in sync with his partner, I’m definitely not going back there now.

So here I am sat here writing up a story about my day just in the hopes that someone will read it and find happiness or minimal gratification, I can’t upload it anyway because there’s no bloody signal, so I decide I’ll just comply it all together at the end of the weekend, it’s all one day sleepless day for me anyways.

6AM I actually manage to nod off for a whole hour, that is until I’m rudely awoken by a cow mooing, I mean to be fair I’m on its turf, I stay in my sleeping back for a while longer I tuck in my head, and just listen to all the birds chirping, trying to score a mate. I wonder if they are saying kind romantic words , or if it’s just “Go on love show us your tits”, we’ll never know.

Around 8AM the rest arise, and we start breakfast, I wasn’t in the mood but I know I should eat, I eat slowly whilst walking aimlessly round our tent, I think back to a conversation from the night before where my friend tells me if I’m thinking about something I should do something about it, I send a message to someone, I am hopeful to hear back, after a while I realise it’s worrying me, so I decided to put my phone away for a bit so I don’t have to think about it, I do some of my morning push up routine to pass time.

After breakfast we go into the village nearby and get some ice cream, it’s reminiscent, I came here many times as a child, the village is almost the same, after all these years.

We make our way back to the campsite, both parties I’m with are coupled up, my friend begins to do some boxing with his partner, and his son is engrossed in his girlfriend, I’m alone, it’s weird to feel alone even in company but in this moment I felt it, I begin pacing around, well I say begin I’d been pacing since I arrived Friday, I’d been quite isolative but like I said everyone was doing their own thing with each others partners, what could I do.

I didn’t really know what do with myself, I suppose if I could drive or had my bike I’d have just ridden off into the distance, so I sit down, I open up my note pad on my phone and I begin typing again, this is quite a long one it seems I usually I just try and summarise snippets of my day, but it felt relieving to express myself in writing to see where my mind would take me, discovering my true thoughts and feelings, something I’d neglected for too long.

After pacing for what feels like an eternity we all decided to go for a walk into the forest, I bring my camera, in hopes that I might find nature has formed something that catches my eyes, sometimes I find nature hard to photograph because you can’t capture your feelings, when others look back it’s just a basic tree, but it’s not for me, so they don’t get the feelings associated that made me take it in the first place.

My friend brings his Airsoft gun with him and obnoxiously shoots every tree in sight, no idea what he was aiming to achieve, I march ahead because I want some peace, I am relieved when it finally runs out of ammo, I can finally hear myself think again, that’s something I didn’t think I’d find relieving, my thoughts were busier but much quieter than that foresaken gun, it was never simple with my friend he was always adding something different to the table.

We reach a bog, the guys walk around it, I decide I wanted to brave it, I trudge through it, as my feet squelch and are swallowed by the ground beneath me I’m humoursly reminded of the time I fell into a bog when I was a scout, I made it through unscathed this time.

On our way back I spot a foal galloping and playing in the field, I’ve never really liked horses I always got the impression they were too arrogant, but seeing this foal playfully galloping about without a care in the world, it made me smile for a moment.

We get back to the campsite and I’m alone again, I’m not, but I am, so I consult my words again, at this point my battery is going down and I’ve already used my bank, I switch my phone to ultra power saving mode and select a few apps I will be using, this is one of them, the others are messenging services in case anyone needs me or vice versa.

I begin to transfer my photographs from my CANON EOS 77D onto my phone to edit, I’d usually use Camera RAW but instead today I use the Lightroom Mobile Version, that’s all I have access to in the forest, there’s not many photographs that are worth my attention but I was particularly happy with my photograph of a Foxglove, I also find their story relatable, beautiful plant yet highly poisonous.

As the rest of the evening unfolds, there isn’t much interesting occurring, my friend leaves me for a couple of hours, his partner stays behind, we’d only met on a few occasions so we used this opportunity to get to know each other, after all he’d be marrying her soon, so she’d be sticking around.

When my friend arrives back he pulls out a giant telescope, to look at the stars with, I’d always been intrigued by using a telescope, and I’ll tell you what, it was rather underwhelming, o mean I was used to viewing photos from NASA and this wasn’t quite up to that, but my friends enjoyed it and I was happy to share the moment with them.

I was just happy to look at the stary night sky with my naked eye, I live in the city, in the centre as well, it wasn’t often you could see the stars clearly due to light pollution.

The night closes and we toast some marshmallows over the fire, it’s not a proper camping trip without them.It’s much colder this night, but it’s also much more beautiful, I am determined to stay out here again tonight even if I have to wear an extra layer.

I get bored, so I decided to get my camera and tripod out and try some long exposures of the stars, I’d always wanted to do this, it took quite a few attempts, but eventually I got somewhere I was happy to settle on, this was not my calling but I pleased to achieve something from it, here’s my favourite one, I shot it at Aperture 3.5, a Shutter Speed of 30 Seconds, ISO 3200.

So here I am again sat out in the forest staring at the night sky as my friends sleep in the tent opposite me. This time is more peaceful, the stars are wonderful tonight, I was looking at the stars and I felt so insignifcant, theres a whole world out there, if I could explore it I would.

The night turns into morning, something during the night makes me think a bit, I ruminate on it over the next few hours, before I know my friends are awake and I’m in a foul mood, I really shouldn’t be, after all it was my own thought process that bought me here, I can’t make assumptions.
I ask my friends partner to drive me to the train station, I didn’t want to stick around, her car wouldn’t start, she wakes up my friend, he’s hungover and in an fouler mood than I, he kicks over the pile of fresh washed crockery his son had kindly done for him, he swears for a bit and eventually helps jump start the car, I say good bye.

I’m awaiting the train, I can’t wait to get in and brush my teeth, and shower, I hadn’t at all this weekend, pretty grim, but I’d forgotten them and it’s not really properly camping if you are completely clean, I always thought that. I was to some degree happy to be going home.

The Train pulls in at my stop, Southampton Central, I exit the train, I’m carrying a lot of bags and camera equipment, I have my sunglasses on, it’s not really sunny by this point but I felt haggard and I didn’t want people to see.
When I get in I immediately strip off, put all my clothes in the washing machine and shower, I shower two or 3 times, I sit at the bottom on the bathtub for a bit, letting the water fall onto my body, just thinking.

I make my self some food, I am rushing around now because my friend from Bournemouth is coming to visit me, he’s not been this way for a long time, I usually go to him, he’s a good friend, if it wasn’t for him, I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t be here today, he saved my life once, I can never repay the debt, that’s a story for another time though.

I finish up typing this up as he patiently waits on my bed for us to go do something a little more interesting, and my story stops here.

This was a much longer one for me, more diarised than what I’m used to writing but I think i’m going to continue to write as much as I can whenever, I hope you enjoy, and if you didn’t well then I’m sorry.

James.

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