The Beach at Hulopoe, Lana'i Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012
I was born a rock, projected into this world, whole, a unity of DNA from all of those who have passed before me in the paternal lines of Cornwall and the maternal lines of Jay. I am searching back through these lines, searching for the end of the strand, knowing it lands in the cradle of the world from whence each one of us has risen at the dawn of humanity.
I was born a rock and at 55 I am eroded to sand, but sand is a beach and everyone loves a beach, right? Tell me it's true, please? I search for worth amidst the grains remaining as I am gradually washed back to the mother ocean, wave after wave, pulling me home.
Cornwall, Kernow - likely my father's people arose from here, as many of that name have done. I am drawn to the shores of this southwest peninsula of England. A place that has held its own culture and nationhood in its soul since first inhabited in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods. I am spending time learning the language and the ways of the people to gain a better understanding of that which is likely the birthplace of the paternal side of my family.
Jay, the bird, in English etymology, and "joyous" from the French "gai" or Roman "gaius." My mother's side of the family hails far back in England and, before that, French. It is much harder to trace the maternal line as men have held power and, in their self-importance, power over record, for ...well, forever I suppose - at least in Western culture.
As the beach, how does one remain strong? How does one stay strong when the rock is hollowed out and the last of us crumbles to join the rest of the sand? Is there strength in simply letting go? Is there strength and hope in knowing that each grain of sand is unique and each piece of us is unique? Together, we stretch out to the mother ocean united as a place between land and sea. Like I describe myself always, I am a conduit, a bridge, between people, places, and times. A conduit is not an easy thing to be because one is not seen so easily when broken down to sand or stretched between this and that. One is a road rather than a destination and often forgotten when the journey ends.
I am something. You may not remember me, but I have been here and remain, like the via of Roman times, the scar of me remains, the lines in the landscape and long after you have passed along me or through me, I remain. I am the journey you have made and the place between places. I am Kernow, kernou. I am Jay, duGai. I am one with the mother and a strand in the colourful blanket of humanity - strong, unique, worn, fragile. I am the sand beneath your feet when you stare out to sea, on the edge between land and water, masculine and feminine, here and not here. I am.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. May 21, 2017
Dedicated to my friend, Nadita Beauchamp
Thanks for inspiring me, for seeing me and for lifting me up
St. Ives, Cornwall (Kernow)
Photo by: Sheila Jeffries (author extraordinaire)
(used with previous written permission)