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Written last night while cut-off from the word on a train travelling through the middle of nowhere.


I spend a lot of my life on trains. Reading, listening, gazing, or trying in vain to sleep. Trains are second nature to me. My home from home on the move. My home on the rails. As seen in my post about safe spaces, I like familiarity. It is comforting. The train I take home has never changed. I have been taking the same route, travelling on the same schedule, in the same carriage for almost a decade. I know most of the staff on sight and, sometimes,  even discuss the conductor’s university-age daughter when he is on shift. My train journeys are long, too long to be considered a commute. So when I travel, I set up shop, dedicating myself to that space for the next few hours. I’ve had adventures on this train. I’ve played poker with Russians, sang Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my voice, had a deep and intense three-hour conversation with a gentleman whose name I failed to learn, yet whose intelligence and presence has stuck with me always.

I don’t really have a point to this rambling. I think I’m just nostalgic. Is it possible to be nostalgic for the present? I think I miss home. I miss having a home. I always have a home to go to, but it’s not the same as being there. Living in halls is like living in limbo and, I think, retrospectively, it has been feeling like that for a while now. My future didn’t work out like I expected. I didn’t find home where I thought, probably naively, that I would. I still don’t have a home to be in. I have a home to go to, but not be in. I think that’s why I’m restless. Everything just now, and for many months to come yet, is leading to that point. To that person and that home. I have both now, and I cherish that more than I could possibly write, but I’m ready to settle. To stop having everything be up in the air. To plan the future, to plan adventures, together.

I’m ready to be home.

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Rights

It’s funny. I was about the start this post with the statement ‘I’m not usually one to delve into politics,’ but that could not be truer. I don’t think a day has gone by since I stepped foot into my first university class that I haven’t had some political discussion or another.

I have always been one for fighting about rights. Voting rights, gender rights, anything that interests me, even if it doesn’t necessarily pertain to me. I’m a strong believer in using your voice whenever you can. In fact, when I started my masters, I didn’t realise just how well I would fit in. You may never find a more anarchistic advocacy group than librarians. Fighting for equal rights and open access to literature and education. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.

But anyways, the reason I bright all this up is because of Jamie Oliver. Weird, right? Yeah well, I agree. I saw a picture of him this morning, sitting in Parliment. Not where I expected to find him, but I was seriously happy to see him there. I have always been rather passive to his existence, as I am to most famous people who are not Neil Gaiman or Lin-Manuel Miranda. Or at least I have been since high school.

I was of the era that passed through high school during Jamie Oliver’s reign of terror on school lunches. Just in time to see cheeseburgers and coke give way to dry chicken filets and bland, greasy pasta pots. It was heartbreaking. I lived on ham rolls for almost 6 years (mostly as a way to avoid pasta bakes, mind you).

I was ignorant. I wasn’t thankful for my health. Thankful for the fact that at the age of 22 I am not obese, I do no have heart problems and I still retain all of my teeth. But I was a child. I wanted to eat crap. Hell, most days I still do, but at least age comes with some increase in self-control, however small.

My point is, my passive hate for Jamie Oliver has turned into immense gratitude. As well as being the generation to kiss goodbye to lunchtime cheeseburgers, I was also the generation who benefitted from free school meals. I grew up in a household with a single mother, trying to feed both myself and my steadily-declining-in-health grandmother, while attempting to finish her own education and work alongside everything else. My mother is a superhero. It’s something I still say now, as she works two jobs seven days a week in order to make her dreams come true and help me with mine. I am eternally grateful and deeply hopeful that I will soon be the position to pay her back in every way I can.

I wasn’t born or raised in poverty. I was lucky. I was fortunate. But I never quite understood how much of that was thanks to something as simple as free school lunches. As simple as £2.50 a day. Seems small right. Barely worth registering. It adds up though. You consider that, five days a week for the, what, thirty odd weeks of school a year. That’s £12.50 a week. That’s £375 a year! If you don’t think that is a lot of money, I am happy for you. Happy you have never had to consider that amount as a blip on your radar. Happy you have never had to consider that an amount like that could feed a family of four for 3 months. And it has.

So I want to say thank you. Thank you and I’m sorry, to Jamie Oliver. Sorry I took you for granted in my youth and thank you for defending the health and wellbeing rights of children all across the UK. I truly, deeply hope you and all those who oppose this absurd manifesto are successful.

Adventure

Adventure is good for the soul. I can vouch for this. My soul feels saited, my camera full and my mind finally focused.

In other words, I ran away to London over the weekend. Not for the first time either. Once during my undergraduate degree, I ended up on an overnight bus to London with less that four hours notice and several of my best friends. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and this was just as fufilling.

I have a habit, neither bad nor good, because it leads to a soild serving of both in the end. I get ideas in my head. Ideas I just can’t shake. These ideas perculate and simmer until I have the entire prospect mentally planned and I just have to know if I can do it. London was one such idea. I can’t really explain it. It started as an opportunity to see one of my favourite poets perform live. It was happening the next day and I was a country over, but I wanted to make it happen.

Oddly enough though, in the space of a few hours the tickets had sold out, and I just didn’t mind. It should have bothered me more than it did, but I just wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to take my boyfriend and do something carefree and spontaneous, and just deal with the concequences when they came. You have no idea how rare that is for me. Sometimes it’s just impossible to switch my brain off. I’m a realist. Every idea and thought is analysed for practical and likely outcomes, which are nine times out of ten negative. So to just not care, it’s so cathartic. To find that rare get-up-and-go that so often is just absent, it was just luxurious. The excitement. To go. To see. To share it. I needed it, so much.

Now, however, I need to get back to work. But it’s still there, in the background. That get-up-and-go. I’m motivated again, even in the smallest way, but it’s there. I found it again.

I’m reminded of a poem that Tia used to love. (Tia is my grandmother, but she’d whack you upside the head for calling her that and making her young soul feel so old). I just remember the one line, about this old woman reading obituaries just to double check she wasn’t in it.

“My get-up-and-go had got up and went”

Hopefully that’s a while down the line for me yet. Motivation is fleeting for me lately, but I know there are many adventures in my future, whether for a day or a life-time. So for now, I’m biding my time, working away during the lull between adventures. After all, that lull is life, and I want to enjoy every moment.


P.S. Keep an eye out for updates to my Photography from the Streets of London album. My new photos will be getting added as soon as I get the opportunity to edit them.

Words

I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately. How freely we spread our words, for better or for worse. How words have completely different connotations depending on context. How using the term ‘heart attack’ colloquially is never a good idea when talking to one of your oldest friends, whose father has just died of an unexpected heart attack. How it’s impossible not to dwell on words you wish you could take back. You are never more aware of the throw-away words you use than when you know how they could hurt someone. Sometimes apologies aren’t really an option. Sometimes it’s irrelevant. I’m getting to the stage in my life where I think that loss may become somewhat of a norm. It’s terrifying. I have gotten rid of so many toxic people and relationships throughout my life, a lot of them family members, that the ones I keep close mean more to me than the world. It means that if loss is to become par for the course, it is going to impact me and hurt me so much in years to come.

Intentions 

Ah the best laid intentions. I was going to climb Ben Nevis today for the first time. I was up at 5am, packed my bag, donned my hiking boots, opened the door to rain. 

Its been three hours and the weather forecast still claims it’s dry outside. Ah well. There goes my good day of fitness. And productivity. I really shouldn’t have let my mum put the tv on. But tea and lounging is just an inescapable reality of being at home. 

Siblings

I’m having tea at my uncles. Mum and him are talking over each other as usual, fighting for soundwave dominance. Family is funny like that. Fighting in such a loving manner. They steal ideas off of each other. Holidays, furniture types, bathroom designs. It’s a hilarious battle for sibling dominance between two entirely different people (other than their big ears). 

I should consider putting a ban on home renovation discussions.  Or make more tea. Probably more tea.