Picking up the Pieces of an Old Life
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
Where to even begin writing this blog entry – how to possibly put a year of life in Thailand and 6 months of adventures on the Mongolian steppes and South East Asian Peninsula into words now that the time has come. How to summarise so many different experiences and emotions in a paltry 1000 words? How do you write about your feelings when you’re not even sure what they are? I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to get round to it; TV and cider and generally being lazy has seemed more alluring than confronting this post since I touched down on home soil. “Did you have a good time?” “Yeah it was amazing thanks.” Utterly insufficient.
The first dizzyingly disconcerting thing that struck me upon landing in Europe after 18 months in Asia, was that everyone here is a giant. For the first time in longer than I could remember, at 5 foot 6” I wasn’t amongst the tallest people in any given room. The second thing, on leaving Berlin Shonefeld airport jetlagged for a long weekend reunion with my brother, his girlfriend and my best friend, was the traffic; so eerily quiet and safe and orderly – science-fiction orderly. I stood at the side of the road by a zebra-crossing; backpack attached, trying to get my bearings and find a taxi. I’m used to leaving an airport to 50 men shouting “taxi!” in my face, who I would then normally skirt before heading out of the airport to hail one where it’s cheaper. Here there’s a system. The cars on the road in front of me had slowed and come to a stop and their drivers were looking at me in annoyance. I stared at them baffled for a minute before realising it must be because I was standing at a zebra-crossing; those are just meaningless face-paint for roads in Thailand. I crossed the road and the traffic started moving again; it’s like friggin’ Blade Runner. So it goes.
A friend of mine told me that ending a period of long-term travel is like breaking-off a long-term relationship; even when you know it’s for the best it hurts like crazy and it takes approximately the same amount of time to assess it and file it away in your brain box as you spent engaged in it. A year still to go then. One of the hardest parts has been deciding what to do now. The last 4-5 years have been utterly devoted to travel; planning it, saving for it, writing about it, doing it. What on earth happens next? Well more of it hopefully but how, where and when? For now I have returned to the City Council, something I was dreading but which has actually been great – I’m very lucky to have been able to walk back into a decent job and I’ve been overwhelmed by how positive people have been to see me again and how many people have been following my exploits; thank-you to you all.
2014 is the year though; new year, new start – no more moping and being indecisive (how many times have you heard that before?). This year is a bit different though; today is the very first day of my masters in Professional Writing, which will hopefully lead to me one day being able to work from my laptop not an office – leaving me free to globe-trot at will. The masters has forced me to go part-time from the day-job; which also means I’m now broke and will be forced to finally put my money where my mouth is and make some income with creativity. Expect in the next few weeks some shameless plugging of Blue Fairy Art (the namesake of this little blog – you can find it on facebook) and finally the publishing of my Mongolian diary. Happy travels bloggers.