Have you had that thing happen after a really awesome holiday?
After spending days, maybe weeks in a place where there are no alarm clocks, commutes, or cubicles, you begin to suspect this place has magical powers of transformation. Here you wear flat shoes and let your hair curl up; you might be bolder, you sleep deeper, you wonder how come the tomatoes taste so freakin’ good here? Its like an exhale from somewhere deep inside, of your whole entire body. You might wonder why ‘real life’ doesn’t feel like this, you might conduct a half-hearted search of real estate in this magical place, or have the ‘if we won the lottery we could move here and I’d paint and you could fix bicycles’ conversation. Over mojitos. With the backdrop of a stupidly gorgeous sunset.
And a few nano-seconds later, you are home, paying the gas bill online while rain pitter-patters on the window. And your desktop wallpaper is an image of you, grinning like a loon in the middle of those few days of brilliance where you felt like you’d come home to yourself.
And you wonder where the hell she went.
I spent years chasing her. All over the world. Just trying to capture those few moments of utter joy, wrapped in possibility, that only seemed available to me when I was far away from my real life. I wanted to (somewhat ironically) hold on tight to that feeling of being untethered and free, I wanted to grab that bubble of adventurous excitement that would rise in my chest whenever I walked past the Chiswick Flight Centre.
It was the weekend in Copenhagen that finally did for me.
After half a dozen years of pursuing the happy, I remember standing on a cobbled street in the early afternoon, still working through the brain-fog of three hours sleep plus bonus hangover (or as I knew it then: Sunday). I was trying to get my bearings with the map in the back of the Europe Rough Guide (remember those?!) I realised I was looking at a map of Amsterdam. And then another few minutes later, I realised I wasn’t in Amsterdam. We’d been there a couple of weeks ago, or was it last weekend? How could I not know? When was the last time I actually thought about where I was?
I realised how knackered I felt. Chasing happiness is exhausting.
Sitting in San Francisco airport just a few weeks ago, I thought about those years of adventuring and the memories I collected, like postcards. I am so grateful to have have had that freedom, to know it for the unwashed knickers, missed trains and lost backpacks, as well as all the magic. There is no unfulfilled Travelling Wilbury inside of me, busting to escape. I am not interested in running away anymore. This makes me feel like a proper grown-up.
But I still find re-entry a difficult bloody business. And even though I know that staying still is by far the most effective way for me to keep the energy of an awesome trip alive, I have really struggled to just let the magic of California sink into my bones.
I love the way I feel on the West Coast – somehow more expansive and filled up at the same time. I love how possible everything feels there. The unlimitedness, the unapologetic bigness of America sparks me up.
Returning to England’s half-arsed attempt at Spring (truly pathetic) has left me antsy and miserable. Perhaps there is some sort of mathematical algorithm relating travelly-trip awesome to time spent wallowing in disproportionate levels of woe? I am gradually coming back to myself here. Much like New Zealand, England is so much more earthy, more grounded in itself, and I know I need this acerbity to keep me real.
So I am putting a request out to the Universe for some magical circumstances that will allow me to mix it up – to live in this ancient rainy land and to have an annual pilgrimage to the States for awesome missions. This feels like the perfect combo deal.
Have you ever had re-entry woe? Do you have any top-tips for managing this? *sits in the park, miles from the ocean* *pops up umbrella*