The One We Knew – 042919

Orpheus is a legendary Greek hero, endowed with superhero musical skills. He married Eurydice who was later killed by a snakebite. Overcome with grief, Orpheus ventured himself to the land of the dead to attempt to bring Eurydice back to life. With his singing and playing, he charmed the ferryman Charon and the dog Cerberus, guardians of the River Styx. His music and grief so moved Hades, king of the underworld, that Orpheus was allowed to take Eurydice with him back to the world of life and light. Hades set one condition, however: upon leaving the land of death, both Orpheus and Eurydice were forbidden to look back. The couple climbed up toward the opening into the land of the living, and Orpheus, seeing the Sun again, turned back to share his delight with Eurydice. At that moment, she disappeared.

I was in London at the end of March through the beginning of April; a trip expertly planned by my baby sister and full of history, musicals, and museums, with a little bit of geekiness thrown in.

The latter captured most on one of our final days in the UK. It was April 5, the day that Sara Bareilles released her new album, “Amidst the Chaos” and the day I got to visit Bad Wolf Bay.

In reality, Dunraven Bay or Southerdown Beach is located in Bridgend in the UK, southwest of Cardiff, Wales. In geekspeak, Bad Wolf Bay is from the 13th episode of the second season of Doctor Who called “Doomsday”, in which The Doctor and his companion, Rose, are pulled into parallel universes.

Geeky stuff, Doctor Who backstory, Daleks, Cybermen, and in the end, there is a rip in The Universe that has to be closed. Naturally, they succeed, but in doing so, Rose gets pulled through the gap into a parallel universe. They save the world, but a wall separates them, with Rose pounding on one side of it: “Take me back!” and eventually her and The Doctor pushing their faces to the opposite sides of the wall, trying desperately to hear anything on the other side.

In true Doctor fashion, Ten finds a tiny gap left, and sends a message to Rose, pulling her to the location of the gap, so he can send a hologram message through.

Doctor: “There’s one tiny little gap in the Universe left, just about to close, and it takes a lot of power to send this projection. I’m in orbit around a supernova. I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye.”

Rose: “Can’t you come through properly?”

Doctor: “The whole thing would fracture. Two universes would collapse.”

Rose: “So?”

Doctor: “Where are we? Where did the gap come out?”

Rose: “About fifty miles out of Burgen. It’s called Darlig Ulv Stranden”.

Doctor: “Dalek?”

Rose: “Darlig. It’s Norwegian for bad. This translates as Bad Wolf Bay.”

The first time I saw this episode it felt like my soul was being ripped apart. One of Jessica’s nicknames, given to her by my dearly departed dad, is Rosie.

On April 29, 2010, my Rosie was kicked in the head by a horse, sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury, ripping the Jessica-that-Was into a parallel universe, leaving those of us on this side of the wall to get to know the Jessica-that-Is.

I told my sister right before we were leaving for London if I didn’t do anything else in London, if I had to pick just one thing to do, it would be to go to Bad Wolf Bay.

Luckily I didn’t have to choose. I got to spend six days with my sister, her husband and my best friend Cam, in London proper, and then we split up, each spending another week in the geek haven of our choosing. Cam and I spent one more day in London to see the Cursed Child, then he spent three days driving me around the European countryside so I could visit the first Lush shop that ever existed and to visit a bunch of Doctor Who filming sites. The most important being Bad Wolf Bay.

While we drove, I listened to Sara’s new album, enjoying the sound of the album for the first half of the day. As we got closer to arriving at Bad Wolf Bay, I was on multiple repeats of the album, so the lyrics were starting to sink in.

Cameron navigated the rocks down to the beach with me so he could take a picture of me on the bay, then he headed back up to the carpark, so I could have a moment or ten on my own.

I can’t explain what it felt like to stand on the bay, Sara’s song “Orpheus” transporting me back to the day of Jessica’s accident, feeling divinely guided to this day, this time, and this place. Feeling my faith, that has been faltering for so long, return. And sobbing. All of the tears. I didn’t stop crying until we had driven away from the beach and were well on our way to the next site.

I will never stop listening at the wall. I would burn up a million suns to get back to that Universe, but for now? 

“I love you.”
“Quite right, too.”

*****

Come by the fire, lay down your head
My love, I see you’re growing tired
So set the bad day by the bed, and rest a while
Your eyes can close
You don’t have to do a thing but listen to me sing
I know you miss the world, the one you knew
The one where everything made sense
Because you didn’t know the truth, that’s how it works
‘Til the bottom drops out and you learn
We’re all just hunters seeking solid ground

Don’t stop trying to find me here amidst the chaos
Though I know it’s blinding, there’s a way out
Say out loud: we will not give up on love now
No fear, don’t you turn like Orpheus, just stay here
Hold me in the dark, and when the day appears
We’ll say: we did not give up on love today

I’ll show you good, restore your faith
I’ll try and somehow make a meaning of the poison in this place
Convince you, love, don’t breathe it in
You were written in the stars that we are swimming in
And it has no name, no guarantee
It’s just the promise of a day I know that some may never see
But that’s enough if the bottom drops out
I hope my love was someone else’s solid ground

Don’t stop trying to find me here amidst the chaos
Though I know it’s blinding, there’s a way out
Say out loud: we will not give up on love now
No fear, don’t you turn like Orpheus, just stay here
Hold me in the dark, and when the day appears
We’ll say: we did not give up on love today

“Orpheus”
Sara Bareilles