Places | Retreat

Walking Around Guernsey with My Mother: A Chronicle of Anxiety

“The problem with writing about my anxiety is that I want it to be a closed narrative.”

Six months before my mother turned seventy, I told her that we could do anything she wanted for her birthday. She said that what she wanted was to take a walking trip around the island of Guernsey, which sits in the sea between England and France. We planned the trip for the September after her birthday, which gave me time to prepare.

Some of the walking I did then was practical (because I didn’t drive, because I was terrified to drive), but most of it was an attempt to outrun myself.

When the things that frightened me rose above a certain watermark, I would walk. In the early winter dusk, I would get off the bus two miles early and cut through twisty, pale-under-the-moon bougainvillea-lined streets, walking and walking until being at home, in bed, safe and warm and asleep, seemed like bliss.


alreadyit’s too cold, it’s too late, I’m too tired, it’s too dangerousI’m hungrywantedwantedwanted

The Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings


mental healthbefore

Nothisis what it’s really like. It’s awful. Don’t let them tell you something different. Don’t let them lie to you.

oh, I’m getting sick, I guess I can’t go to Guernsey