More Than This

by Heidi James

Not long before leaving, she’d begun forgetting the words that produced her life. Simple words like saucepan, obelisk, masquerade and most recently, cufflinks, which she’d called wrist links, her mind toddler-fumbling with the picture-sounds till her husband corrected her with an unconcerned look on his face.

Diving into Berghain

Years ago, someone told me that the best way to get through a crowd at a nightclub or concert is to dance your way through. The bodies around you will have more sympathy for a dancer – they’ll shift and accommodate, flex and bend – than for someone simply pushing.

To Space and Back: Love and Lunacy in Ibiza

I am, in the purest sense, a lunatic... Given the ancient mythological connection between the menstrual cycle and the moon, I can think of no better word to describe the lurching fear in my stomach as I lie by the pool on the first day of my holiday.

Exploring the Angeles National Forest

“In the mountains of San Gabriel, overlooking the lowland vines and fruit groves, Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage.” – John Muir

A failed rock star first made me really think about them. Until then, they’d just been there, a looming wall of jagged green blocking off the skyline to the north. Silent and a little foreboding, preventing the city’s careless sprawl from creeping any further.

Pearl

‘Soppy’, she said, teasing me about the mother of pearl box filled with baby teeth, the lacy blanket we wrapped her in to bring her home from the hospital, her school reports, her first shoes, her favourite doll – all safe and sound in a trunk in the spare room.

A Person under a Train

Some years ago, I took a train and somebody jumped in front of it. It was a hot summer morning, a beautiful morning, in the south of England and I was taking a train from London to the coast, rushing through the best kind of countryside: rolling hills and shimmering crops, giant white horses etched in chalk onto hillsides, stone circles rotating through glades of bluebells, gangs of young men growing hot and overexcited, bake offs.

Snowdrops

The average 20-year-old checks their phone 90 times a day. But Layla was not average. She posted the video as she waited for the toaster to ping and checked the view-count three times in the two minutes it took her to finish breakfast. The internet replied with silence and that stung a little, as it always did.

Plants, Powders and Spirit Voices

“I’m definitely going to shit myself,” I told my friend, as I stuffed a pair of pants into my rucksack. We were in her apartment in Bogotá, readying ourselves for an overnight stay in Colombia’s Cordillera Oriental mountains, where we were to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony.

Dubious Heritage

I am descended from a long line of liars, which is even less noble than it sounds. It’s impossible to trace my dubious heritage, though I suspect it goes as far back as the Roman Empire, or earlier still. It’s impossible to trace because depending on who you ask, my ancestors are: Italian, Indian, Jewish, Scottish, English, German, rich, poor, brilliant and ordinary.

The Shaman from Monaco

At the start of 2015, I met a Canadian ex-banker-turned-shamanic healer from Monaco, who was in China to close a deal on his robotic inventions. He introduced himself by coming over to my table in a hotel café and asking me what I was doing here. A straightforward question, yet it hung in the air, reluctant and vague.