301 – The Will

As I've learnt to my cost, in real life phoenixes can't be created by setting fire to pigeons.

I, Campfire James Burning, being of approximately sound mind and a body that, while not as fit as it was before two weeks of incessant binging on British foodstuffs I’ll shortly no longer have access to, is still reasonably sound if a little more porcine than is customary, do hearby bequeath the world this, my living will.

I don’t have long left on this planet, you see–and by ‘planet’ I mean ‘country’, by which I mean England, the southernmost and predominant country that constitutes the largest landmass of the United Kingdom of wherever the hell this is. I’m a couple sheets to the wind at the moment, cruising toward the third and most vital sheet which will send me headlong into squalling showers and winds moving at high knots, and other nautical metaphors for faceplanting while the room spins like Lord Spinnington, the Royally appointed whirling dervish for Spinningshire.

No, my days here are numbered and that number is currently one and one half. At this hour one and a half days away I’ll be leaving on a jet plane, and I don’t know when I’ll be back again. Possibly never, though probably distant years from now, bringing my yet to be conceived offspring to visit their grandmum and grandad and their auntie Aunt.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. In actuality whoever it is that brings young Sorrow and Baby McBabyface (the wife and I have yet to reach an agreement with regard to children’s names. She refuses to let me name our daughter something tantamount to ‘I wish you’d never been born’ and I refuse to let her name our other kid the other thing; as it stands these are the only names we’ve decided upon. I worry for our children’s mental health) to the United Kingdom will not be me, for I am dying a slow and oddly painless death.

In my place will be Campfire Burning 2.0. New, improved, a family man if ever there was one, thrust into the social limelight, an occupational hazard in a new workplace, an immigrant coming over here, taking our jobs, a limey Brit fuck playing uncle to three tearaway children, playing brother to two slightly less tearaway sister-in-laws, playing son to a generous and beneficent matriarch and playing at being a man for the first goddamned time in his life. He’ll be a husband, a cook, a breadwinner, a cleaner, and in time he will be father to two tall and intelligent blond children with improbable names.

This is my future. Sadly it’s a future I won’t live to see.

Reborn in the flames of in-flight cuisine and port authority interrogation the new me will emerge phoenix-like, suitcases like tail feathers flapping behind him. The ash left at Heathrow will be the old me, the current me, shucked like a corn husk, left behind as he should have been so very long ago.

I grew tired of myself the instant I met me. I’ve never liked myself and for the most part the universe has agreed with my prognosis. “You’ll never amount to anything.” Well yes, I certainly haven’t up until now. As things change, so I’ve come to realise they’re not changing at all: they’re starting afresh. The me who exists will expire at the city limits. He’s dying already, saying so long to people and places that abandoned him long ago. Soon he will depart and in his place will stand someone different, someone new, someone who will hopefully be more competent than I have ever been.

It’s important that you understand this, so you understand what it is I’m leaving behind. This isn’t a basic upping of sticks here. This isn’t a common or garden move.

Plymouth has always been what it’s always been. My parents have never been too far away and neither have all those places familiar from a lifetime living in much the same postcode. The Faraway Tree has always been close, as have the woodlands I’ve sought in storms, the Tamer Bridge, the Hooe–the sights and sounds of a lifetime of home comfort, suddenly stilled in the wind.

Where will I go for a Cornish pasty? Hell, where will I go for minced beef? Everything’s so uncertain except uncertainty’s the furthest word from the truth: it’s certain that things are changing. it’s certain I’ll be far from home.

And the new me will make a new home over there. My flights of fancy will persist–my always-dream of my very own podcast has taken a distinctly star-spangled hue over the last few weeks–but the dreamer will have a different face, a different duty, a different disposition. He’ll make a family from the in-laws ready-assembled, and add his own DNA into the mix, bringing new children into this already over-crowded world. He might even make friends, although this particular fantasy seems so far-fetched I can’t conceive of other people wanting to endure my company.

Still, it could happen. Like I said, everything’s so uncertain.

I don’t have much to give. There are no secret riches, no family heirlooms. I’d hand out my mum’s recipe for shortbread but shortbread’s always been a Christmassy treat in my family, and that’s a tradition I will keep in the future.

All I have to give is myself. Three hundred posts we’ve been through, three hundred quirks and myriad more neurosis. Jarring perspectives, solitude, sadness, pain and brittle hope, all on the gossamer wings of a man moving inexorably toward his own end.

Be in no doubt: if I have the means this blog will continue, but it will be written by the Yankee Patriot, not the Campfire Burning you knew and endured.

And just how well did you know him, anyway? Just how much will you miss him once he’s gone?

Only time will tell, and as you can see, time is something we’re in short supply of.

Not many days left now. One and one half. One and a bit.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading east to London, to spend my last evening visiting my sister. Some reparations have been made in these final weeks. It’s possible that too, is an indication the old me is passing on, and that the new one will be a smidgen more likeable.

I’ll be staying overnight in a hotel for the first time in my life, and then it’s off to the airport for teary goodbyes and dissolution as the me that is ceases to be.

This will be my last post. One A Day 302 will come to you live from another place, another time, as written by another person who’ll be unfortunate enough to share my face but will be a very different person altogether. The Campfire of the future has the adventure of a lifetime ahead of him. I envy him, and wish him all the luck in the world.

As for me, I’ll be sinking into thankful silence. It’s been a hard life–perhaps not one you’d think of as hard, or that would stand against the true hardships suffered the world over even as I type, but one I’ve thought of ending often, that I weathered only through cowardice. Never brighter, the future belongs to a better man than I.

And I will sleep finally, blissfully, at peace against all odds.

This is the will and testament of a boy who’s suffered so much, often at his own hand.

I hope to see you all again once I’m a man.

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