The Gypsy's Tent
The thing about some choices is that you never know at the time just how important it will be in shaping your future. It is not until afterwards that you look back and see where the forks in the road were. At the time, you were just living your life.
Annemika could see her own life in the palm of her hand; a multitude of forks that split off into a decorative display of narrow, crooked and unsealed roads. Some of the roads crossed each other, and some of them seemed to peter out. Yet they were all connected, albeit in a disorderly and random fashion. Annemika imagined that if she removed just one of these forks then the whole pattern would change, and there would be a grand chasm symbolising an abrupt halt to the rapid continuation of events that had characterised her life.
Secretly, she believed her life was different to most. And this made it all seem worthwhile; important.
It was an unseasonably warm evening early in May when the dreaming took place. Days had turned from darkness to fresh, windows were flung open in the pale morning light, and the dampness and mildew that had gathered through colder months was unceremoniously stripped from the wintry corners of hibernation.
Annemika laid alone in her house, savouring the gentle whisper of mild breeze upon her skin, the scent of ocean in darkness and the sound of sea birds crying as they circled the land. She was busy in her mind, rearranging all those forks by reversing some of the choices that had created them. Funny, it was like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story and so far, she had created seven different endings (all of them happy, of course). Oh, there were many things in her life right now that she would change, if only she had the dare. Trouble was, Annemika felt more than a little footsore from travelling along so many unmade roads, and who could predict to which type of surface the next fork would lead? Annemika mused that what she needed was some guiding inspiration, or a prophetic crystal ball to grant her certainty that the next big change would lead to a perfectly straight, sealed road. And a wide road with plenty of space to overtake others that got in her way. She consoled herself by reflecting that Old Man Time would take care of it all.
By and by her thoughts drifted into haze, into the dreaming.
There in her life was a colourful gypsy boy dressed in natural fabric that fell loosely over golden skin. He reached out his hand and pulled Annemika close. As he did, a tenderness and warmth unfamiliar to Annemika’s tardy emotions flooded her to the point of vulnerability. So she stole herself from falling hopelessly into the arms of this enchanting boy who was beckoning upon her desires. She took a step back to look at the gypsy’s face, which formed a smile that lit up the dark sky. Then his eyes of deep, dark soul formed words unspoken:
‘That which traps me, I do not wish to explore. That which grants me freedom, I will return to ever more. But you must pay for your own brand of freedom with the price that loneliness asks.’
Having said this, the gypsy disappeared into a valley, blowing softly into a magical harp that had been carved from the wood of a timeless willow. Annemika followed the gypsy with her eyes, and looking down she noticed he had left his footprints behind. So she ran after him, calling ‘Wait, you’ve forgotten something.’ She knew it was a poor excuse to see him once more; to bid him a long farewell. In her pursuit she came across a May Pole that was adorned with bright ribbons blowing freely in the wind and the gypsy was there with all his gypsy friends. They stood around a fire, sipping rum and bitter gin. Then one by one they gathered to the May Pole in the earth, and there they stood in fours, poised to strike the dirt. Bare feet and dirty hair, not captured by the land; returning ever more to dance free – woman and man.
Annemika awoke from dream with a river of jumbled yet profound thoughts trickling through her head. But her inspiration was not complete. So she drifted back into the haze, into the dreaming.
Gypsy boy came forwards from a valley, with willow wood in hand. Once more he took her closely, and for a moment their hearts entwined. But all too soon it was over, and she was running away into the night. The footsteps came behind her, strong yet lightly-paced, and she looked around in terror to see the beautiful gypsy’s face. He pulled her short of breathless then standing abreast her perfect form he placed his covered foot ever so lightly alongside hers. And again his soft eyes spoke:
‘Look, our feet are the same size. Can we swap our shoes? And now please tell me, do you feel my mood?’
Walking beside the gypsy free, she was pleasantly overwhelmed with feelings of empathy for this complete stranger. In the gypsy’s shoes, she knew him. In the gypsy’s shoes, she humoured him. In the gypsy’s shoes, she laughed with him. And the words that did not need to be spoken formed a May Pole before her eyes, and there again were the freedom people, laughing and dancing high. In groups of four they skipped, twirling ribbons around the pole. Then effortlessly each person swapped places with the other in their pair and they danced in silent harmony wearing a different set of shoes.
Again Annemika awoke from dream with a blur of images running loose, but rolled back into sleep for return to those gypsies-free. So she drifted back into the haze, into the dreaming.
Once more the gypsy appeared as the kaleidoscope of her life, and there was no mistaking he was handsome with a bit of mongrel to his bite. Gypsy boy strolled towards her but then paused to look aside. His outstretched hand beckoned Annemika, and when their palms pressed against each other she lost her sight. Suddenly, the world became clearer to her and much brighter than when she could see. Again the gypsy’s eyes spoke:
‘Feeling is believing, so trust what warns you inside. Nobody is owned or possessed, only committed to others in kind.’
Like before the gypsy disappeared, but this time he waited for her to follow. Again they came across a May Pole, with ribbons flying high. Annemika gazed upon those wild people dancing a pattern throughout the night and she was warmed by the flame of their eternal fire. Then the dance pattern changed once more, as each gypsy left their partner’s side and swapped places to dance with another from a different pair. They danced awhile like this, taking pleasure in a new face and eventually they slowed down to a gentle, rhythmic pace. Soon they all became still, dropping peacefully to the ground and the beauty in their chaos echoed triumphantly throughout the land.
When Annemika looked more closely she saw what their dance had created. The coloured ribbons of the May Pole dangled ceremoniously, knotted together in an obscure way. It was a lasting symbol of their movements; a timeless, intricate blueprint. Without question or analysis it suddenly occurred to Annemika that the pattern on the May Pole was the same pattern that lay in her palm.
Gypsy boy then raised his head and spoke to her with his eyes:
‘We call this dance the Gypsy’s Tent. It results in a pattern that we describe as a complicated, open plait. Because our movements our random, it ends up in a colourful delight.’
The next unseasonably warm day, Annemika broke up with her boyfriend. The one after that, she resigned from her job. And the one after that, she packed up her house. The week following, she was on the road to another life. She glanced at her palm - more forks, more roads, yet many smooth patches still on her skin. The highway she was driving on met the horizon at a point not so far away. That is where she was headed.