(This photo hasn't very much to do with this post, but I don't really care.)
It occurred to me that the end of October marked the end of the first quarter of my year of adventure. So this is my Quarterly Review, title borrowed from the Quarterly Review published by John Murray who of course published EVERYTHING.
The Review actually starts with a bit of pre-history. Why did I decide to go travelling in the first place? I wasn’t unhappy in London – far from it. But I did feel that I was in danger of digging myself into a nice rut (can you dig into a rut?) and that organising myself to change things was only to get harder. I wanted to make sure that if I settled into a groove in London it wasn’t because I was too chicken to try other options.
In fact, this year became the equivalent –in my mind – of the cold-water cure. Scared of change? Like the safety of your own shell too much? Jump into the unknown. Travel by yourself. Surround yourself with strangers. Try new things.
The hardest part was leaving. By the end of July I was a big blur of motion – sort of like that Pigpen kid in Peanuts, but cleaner. I didn’t sleep well, didn’t eat well because I was so wound up. When I finally got to Greece and began the slow process of unwinding, the small trickles of tears turned into a torrent and I lay on my bed and howled like a child. August was a time of transition – from security to uncertainty, from familiar to unknown, from grey skies to blue skies, from 9 to 5 (not that I ever left work at 5…) to whenever-I-like. But by the beginning of September I felt rested, excited about the future. The wedding I went to was such a happy time – a celebration of Phaedra and Simon but also of all the good things in life.
My stay in France started with stress (you can read about the plane journey here) but ended with a small boy knowing my name and me feeling that I had been as supportive a sister/sister-in-law/aunt as I could be. Roisin and I lived on separate continents for seven years, so the seven weeks I spent with her and her family felt like just enough time to catch up.
October meant it was time for the next step – a bigger one this time. Cape Town is further from home, in distance and culture. For the first few days my head felt fogged up by the strangeness of it all and the safety warnings I received before and after I arrived made me wonder if I would ever feel free to get to know the place.
And then the sun came out. I’ve only been here two and a half weeks, but I’ve fallen in love with Cape Town. I like the freedom I have to try new things. I like meeting new people every day. I like being encouraged to be creative. I like the fact that I can feel myself opening up and relaxing.I announced a couple of weeks ago that Monday would henceforth be the Official Day of Hints. Today’s hint is not, as you might expect, to go travelling. That’s not right for everyone. Feel the fear and do it anyway? Been said before. You regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do? Ditto. The only hint I really want to pass on is that the skill of being open to new things needs practice. If, like me, you have a constitutional aversion to new things let me assure you that the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the rewards are great.