By Leanne Johnson

It doesn’t matter. It never did. What do you know about being a rebel? Others talk about ‘real life’. This ‘real life’ we get back to after something different, something stronger. Well here I am as I live and breathe enveloped in every second and living the one I’ve got.

I roll back the doors of the conversion. His name is Gus, and he is my transport to freedom. Stepping out on to the land we call Earth, a postcode I will never learn and I don’t want to know. All I know is I can breathe again. The warmth hits me, it’s like a comfort, the hug I never had as a child. That hit is soothing unlike the strikes I used to endure in the warzone they called my home. Only I knew, and I know well, the true value of these moments. Those cruel words that embedded in my soul seem to be individually surfacing and shedding to reveal newly healed skin. I have not showered that skin with soap in 8 days but I am cleaner than I have ever been. Salt from the ocean encrusted over my body in replacement of past tears. I am whole again.

Gentle warmth of stones as I wander barefoot treading onto the unbeaten track. No plan, into the unknown. Going nowhere. But, that is where I want to be - no one, nowhere. Only then is everywhere my cradle, I am always home safe. Only then am I familiar as I blend into the environment and become someone you know, a feeling you crave but you will never have the guts to follow me. A wonderful guise of failure in the utmost fulfilling success of all – true freedom. Wandering the clouds of your dreams as you watch from beneath with a periscope of wonder and judgement.

I turn towards the wooden panels of my beloved Gus. I hear the ocean close by capturing the attention of the hairs on the back of my neck. Speaking sweet nothings and creating my zen. The rituals that make me all and nothing. One.

First things first and, yes, the morning coffee is an effort to make, but nothing worth having comes easy. Though I don’t care how long it takes because this moment is mine. Yes, this space may be smaller but it symbolises something of enormity. That the days in which I breathe are mine. That the thoughts I have are my own and that I no longer have to suffer for anyone else’s choices. If this is not ‘real life’ is it appropriate for me to go and tell all the locals of these small unknown communities that the life they live does not exist? Does it matter. Money is paper, money is kindling and keeps warm the most corrupt powers of all. Or becomes a weapon. A weapon to make them stay, a reason to run away. Chain reactions connected to the feet of those who live in fear of what others think.

I climb onto the roof of Gus to get an even better view. Sun caressing me as the light awakens my freckles. I see the waves, inhale, exhale and I am ready. I know it involves danger, but it is a danger I chose and in its most natural form. Unlike the aggression that once captured me. The water’s actions are not premeditated. Both possibly instinctual on some level but one is pure and the other knows what it has done. It knows it hurts, it knows it stole from you. Your childhood, your mind, your security and almost your life. Living in a sociopathic cycle of self-pity, projection and cruelty. This does not stop at the front door; its crushing weight is your existence. And for what? The why’s and the lullabies, messages nothing but mixed. Eventually culminating in the rejection of all, even the good to ensure a state of static safety. Don’t move and they can’t see you. Standing your ground, being who you are, defiance to violence seen as an act of rebellion. Until this rebellion, the black sheep, this total loss, becomes your only friend. The only part of your identity that speaks loudest, all you can hear, all you can feel. Numb.

The smell of wax pleases me. My board getting cared for as it cares for me as the scent of sweet coconuts fill my lungs. No chains surround my ankles, only a leash to keep me connected. To keep me afloat – and it’s that simple. I paddle out as if I can see a future. I can feel again as Gus watches me from over the hill, me staring at him as if a smile to my inner child. I am at peace. Paddling out is intimidating but the water’s eyes challenge me – it knowing I am worthy of this moment but only if I can find this thought from within. Mutual respect as we lend one another our spirits. You play with me, I will play with you; we both know who is in charge. Reminding me that, ultimately, in life we have no control. Only entirely found when I am most lost. The wave-sets humbling me to the knees of my mind. Afraid. Making sense. Feeling like home.

‘Little girls should be seen and not heard’ written in the deepest of old scars. Well do you see this? Do you see me ride the waves of fear itself and make this into something beautiful? Do you see me save my own life? Do you see me walk barefoot over the earth that mothers me? Feel bliss in the moments of time that fathers me? Kiss the air and breathe in my thoughts as if I have been touched by an angel? The lack of understanding. Small minds like raindrops absorbed by the ocean in which I bathe. I make no apologies and I will never be beaten.

I am the rebel.

defiance, personal rebellion, surfing, travel