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The Pilgrimage

Liz King

Summer, 2019

The first tracks on skin, when it shone with adolescence. Blades etched out trails of anguish, in shallow scratches to harness something tangible out of that roaring blizzard within. Being 16 was thick with hedonism and your head was submerged under waves - when you were a vulgar, petty criminal and destructive. When the blade first hit the soft skin of my thigh to soothe that roaring - suddenly feeling things, hitting you like a high speed train as you tenderly leave the soft sunny meadows of childhood. Then suddenly there's pain and lust burning like the gates of hell.

We sat on the curb, guzzling cider, wet from the damp grass of October, eyes glassy, a Sony Ericsson providing the soundtrack to our dark park bench soireés high off Mkat. Totally invincible stuck in a bell jar of small town malice that you know one day you’ll turn your back on forever, but right now you and your friends own the whole world and the tangible strength of our angst brews between us like a powder keg.

Criminals, geniuses in our own right; powerful recklessness.

Maybe it was the last time that I was truly part of something, a comrade, a team mate, a gang, unbeatable - the loneliness like fog only starts as adult life prises us all apart with its congeniality, normal etiquette that must be upheld once that juvenile edge gets left behind along with the copies of Kerrang and apple sours.

Before the dark circles set in and bonfire smoke clung to our soft cheeks with swollen lips, lambrini sleeves, acrid and cold. High moon nights creeping around town like foxes, serenading in alleys, evading police as we smashed our way through time, so smart so sad so stupid. Chavs and hippies united in drizzle and beer.

I used to coil up in fits of pain and find my pencil sharpener blade, just scratch. Listen to metal bands - I thought I was so in love, when at 14 I became a woman in my single bed. My tumblr painted like the inside of my mind where we shared the woes and dark days, with song lyrics, The Smiths and poetry. We lost and found ourselves online, before it got banished from social media, in place of stylised highly slick hyper reality Instagram living best life content, ran over our genius stupid teenage ways with a bulldozer.

The adolescent turbulence of a small town upbringing- cider in fields, woods, tents, park benches, cold kisses, no coat, wet trainers, wet grass. Shoplifting, golden virginia. On the cusp before iPhones intercepted this energy forever. Saturday night spent congregating under some form of shelter against the biting November air. Sat on concrete, drum and bass playing from a flip phone, soggy jumpers, pale from the cold warm from the cheap wine. Digital camera selfies, hoods up, tongues out, too much foundation and over plucked brows. These parties were our life, our surrogate family, the group grew. We all mocked one and other in a kind of mutual understanding. It was ours- nos balloons, who’s sleeping with who. Damage and disarray- someone got naked and got in the freezer, another fell in the pond, we all laughed, we smoked fags, we didn't care, it felt like forever, it would soon be over.

Liz is a South London-based analogue photographer and writer inspired by the everyday.


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