This post has been drafted in my head for sometime now, but as tomorrow (February 14th), marks 4 months of being back in the UK, I thought I’d publish it.
4 months?! I thought to myself. Have I really been living back in the UK for four months?
In the 4 months prior to that I had visited 9 different countries, had many new and wonderful experiences, witnessed things that I never knew could happen, immersed myself in many cultures and lived incredibly cheaply.
As I paid the £3 for my cafe latte from Starbucks to take with me on the 25 minute central line train back into London, to be pushed and shoved by other commuters, I thought about what I had achieved in these 4 months since being back, and started really reflecting upon my time here.
Before I left the UK, I had read other blog posts about returning to where you started, and the reverse culture shock, but thought ‘it can’t be that bad’, but oh yes, it really is.
As I stepped off the train from Heathrow Airport, in my Baggy Asian print pants, I bought just four weeks earlier in Vietnam, with scars still evident on my feet and legs from my scooter accident, I felt a huge chill flow through me. It was freezing and it was only October. I then got bombarded by people rushing everywhere, putting my relaxed mind in a state of panic and confusion. Why had I come back. It was cold, and people are rude here, and you want how much for a coffee? I did have these fears not long before flying back, but here they were, BAMM, right in my face for me to deal with.
Admittedly, my time back in the UK has been incredibly busy, temporary and unsettling. I’ve been the length and breadth of the country, at friends birthdays, charity running events, and a wedding, as well as being back home a few times; I was generally moving, all the time.
Although I had been used to being a backpacker, living out of my rucksack and moving from place to place every few days; somehow it doesn’t seem to work when you are back in your home country and working a full time, 9-5 job.
In my first three months back in the country, I calculated that I had slept in 14 different places; the most was 7 weeks in a temporary house sit in Essex. I also had 2 weeks of sleeping on my sisters couch. Life was all very temporary, and still is.
My job, is well paid, but is not very fulfilling and is stressful, but is only guaranteed until the end of March, which made my search for a place to live, very difficult, nowhere in London (that you didn’t pay an arm and a leg for, or that wasn’t a squatters den) was easy to find for just three months. My daily commute home, involved being on my phone searching on SpareRoom, and then doing flat viewings. It was depressing.
Where am I now?
So, now I am currently living in East London, in a flat share; temporarily taking over a property developers room, as he is away in Spain. He will return mid March, and I will have to move again.
This has made me stop and think about where I am going, and what I am doing with life. Although London is amazing, and there is so much going on, I feel that my life is way too temporary to settle, which makes me passive at making an effort to do things, or make new friends.
Shaking off the travel bug
They say, once you travel, that’s it – you’re hooked, and I am. There is no way I can shake off the travel bug. It is there; it always will be. I often see people with their rucksacks or suitcases, on their way to airports and sigh; I want to be there. I see planes, and wander where they’ve been, or are going to. I open my purse and find that I still have some Thai Baht coins in there, or my travel journals, sitting on my shelf, collecting dust. Memories; they’re all just good memories.
Life for Rent
During one of my days travelling, I had a day on my own; which I don’t mind. I don’t need to be in a group of people constantly. I can do my own thing. I went to a cafe for lunch, by the sea and looked out at the view. I was enjoying my lunch, which cost about £1, and the heat that was hitting my back, drying me off following my snorkelling session. Then a song came on the radio, it was a song by Dido, called ‘life for rent’.
At first I wasn’t paying much attention to it. Then some of the lyrics jumped out at me:
“I haven’t ever really found a place that I call home
I never stick around quite long enough to make it.”
And there it was, me, summed up in a few lyrics. I realised there and then, on a beachside cafe in Bali, that, that was me. I was living a temporary ‘rental life’. I had gone from place to place; the UK to NZ. I made a home for myself, made friends and established friendships, and then I was gone. The same happened in my two years at my first job in Lincolnshire; I came and I left.
Where to now?
Before I left the UK, I took many trips down to London, to visit my sister, and I loved it. I loved the buzz, the beautiful buildings, and the endless things to do. I used to think living in London, would be the epitome of greatness, and getting to say that you lived in London would be cool. Well, it is not, and I am slowly growing a dislike to the place, as I rush about, as a tired commuter, having my grab and go meals, I am not really appreciating, where I am, and that, I really don’t like.
Now, I feel that I am in total limbo, and I am in a state of confusion, as to what I want to do with my life.
I have a life list, which consists of travel and non travel related things.
I want to travel, but equally, I want to find a place to call home. Establish proper solid friendships and a base in which to explore.
England is cold right now, but won’t always be. It is a huge country with many places to explore. Perhaps I need to stay put for a while, and really connect with people.
I don’t think this means I won’t be travelling. It just means I won’t be on the move all the time.
I already have a number of trips planned for this year that I will be writing about and sharing, and which I am very excited about, especially the mystery trip with my sister.
Question is, can I move from a traveller to a two weeks at a time holidayer and long weekender? Perhaps.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”