I guess most of us have had the experience of meeting people in real life they originally encountered online. Many of these encounters can be big disappointments. Others can be more unusual. Some can be fantasies…….like this chance meeting with sex writer Anna Sansom.
Anna came to me out of the mist. I was tired and lost, resting on a grassy knoll, and munching what little food I had. Two sheep looked at me pityingly as if they thought I was mad, quite mad, to be so high up in their damp domain. I wondered what madness had possessed me to make me attempt this walk, when I had only ever followed waymarked trails through valleys.
Anna had a bright red waterproof jacket on, a small rucksack and a warm smile. She asked if she could join me on the grassy knoll I nodded agreement and she took off her rucksack and sat down.
“I’m Anna” she said, taking a slab of Kendal Mint Cake out of her rucksack and offering me a piece.
“You look like you could do with some of this. It’s good for giving you instant energy when you’re tired.”
“I don’t know if I am tired, just lost and in need of some guidance.”
“Well I came to Wales with friends, but I knew I really didn’t want to do the walks they had planned. I wanted to go my own way and experience some real excitement. But I am stuck up here and they are probably in that pub by the shore of the lake.”
“Maybe” aid Anna “but let’s walk together a little way and I will show you some of the things that they are missing out on. I think the mist is starting to lift and there will be some great views across towards Snowdon.”
“Do you do a lot of mountain walking?” I asked her.
“Well yes. I don’t think I have ever been one for the beaten track.”
“And do you always walk on your own?”
“Not always. Sometimes I walk with friends, sometimes with my partner and then, like today. I feel the need to head off on my own.”
I thought about this,
“Do you think I am odd, just setting off on my own like this.?”
“Not at all” said Anna, “You’re taking a risk by doing this, but you need to follow yoir won paths sometimes. We all do. And no you are not odd. And please don’t let anyone tell you that you are.”
“I need to be me don’t I?”
“You do. Remember, too, that you are good enough, you don’t need the approval of others to validate your life choices.”
Anna stood up.
“I didn’t catch your name.”
“Eve” I replied.
“Well it s been lovely to meet you Eve…”
“Maybe we should walk on a bit together? I guess we are going the same way, at least for a bit.”
So we walked and talked and as we talked about our lives, the life choices we all have to make, and the mist began to lift, the sun, pale yellow, began to break through the cloud and there below us, was the lake, the old road with cars snaking along it. And I could see a beauty in these mountains than I could only have guessed at from the perspective of the low level paths.
“There is one thing” I said “I am not sure how to put it”
“Go on” said Anna smiling,
“I have fallen in love.”
“With a woman. I have never been into girls before and this is…..”
“New> Exciting ? A bit like mountain walking?”
“it’s a new path for you isn’t it, a walk off the beaten track. You know I call it.? These are your desire lines, these paths you take. And like mountain paths they bring both risks and rewards. But you need to follow them to be the real you.”
We had reached a point where a stony track on the left dropped away off the ridge,
“Well Eve I do have to leave you a point. My partner will be expecting me back. But carry straight on and you will come to the summit cairn. The mist should have lifted by the time you get there,”
“Thank you Anna.”
We looked at each other for a second and then Anna took a step forward and hugged me.
“I wish you all the very best Eve.. I hoe your desire lines take you where you want to go. “
Then she turned and walked off, disappearing over the side of the ridge along the stony track down to the lake, She did not look back, I paused a moment and turned right along the path along the ridge that rose gently to the summit cairn., from which the mist was now lifting. I felt, peace, tranquility and, yes, joy.
Did I meet Anna again? Well, actually I have never met Anna, although we were once in the same room in a Bristol bar without actually meeting (how did that happen?) However I am sure that we are going to meet in real life one day and I really think we will get on. For Anna is one of my oldest online friends We have been engaging online and sharing for nearly seven years now, and sharing and Anna has always found time to offer her advice and suggestions when I have contacted her.
This little story is an allegory of my relationship with Anna as writer and reader. Anna’s new book, Desire Lines is published in September and while I can’t promise you it will help you navigate your way through the mists on Welsh mountains, it will give you much food for thought and encouragement as you map and follow your own desire lines.