On Tuesday, I escaped.
It was amazing; small amounts of sadness mingled with large portions of glee. I did it, I stuck it out, I nailed the vegan lifestyle and my body even humoured me with some extra strength and flexibility.
Upon my release, I ventured to the supermarket near the train station to initiate myself back into the world of wine and cheese. Obviously.
I was so overwhelmed. Aisles upon aisles of packaged foods, all screaming that they are healthier because they have been manufactured to have no something or other. In search of something familiar, I looked for mungbeans. They didn’t have any, much to my despair. My heart rate quickened, I became flustered and sweaty, and I panic purchased a bottle of red wine, a mango and a pineapple. It was like I was a prisoner, freshly released from his cell, and sent out to fend for himself in a world full of cookie aisles the length of a basketball court.
This would have been a lot more humorous had I been with a travel buddy who could laugh along with me in my frantic pursuits. But no, I was alone. Just me, my backpack, and my prickly pineapple clasped to my chest. If there had been two of us, people might have looked on and sighed, ‘they look like they are having a humorous adventure’. They looked at me with a sort of pitying disdain; “poor girl, I wonder how she thinks she’s going to cut that pineapple”…
I lumbered over to the train station and sat nursing my pineapple, reflecting on the past month. I have had several revelations over the past month or so, mostly regarding how weird people are, and how in comparison my weirdness doesn’t really measure up. Quite a relief actually. Nothing like a curious travel experience to put your own life into perspective.
Sitting there, I also realised that I am now a less stressy person than I thought I was! I still like to get everywhere about an hour before I need to be there, for peace of mind. And I secretly love that transit time, it gives me a chance to say goodbye to one place and prepare for the next. I scribble notes, eat a banana, go to the toilet and stare back at people who stare at me. But I’m developing a sort of “what will be, will be” attitude. I am exactly where I need to be, even when it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.
The night before I left, my American roommate Aimed interviewed me. She does this with all the people she meets who will let her ask them personal questions. I think it took about half an hour and it was actually an enjoyable, reflecting experience on where I’m at right now. Questions like ‘decribe the room we’re in and what it means to you’, and ‘if you had to get to know someone by only asking one question, what would it be?’ I answered with something like; “this room is real cosy apart from the picture of Jesus who meets my eye when I awake in the morning”. And other, more eloquent answers.
She said she sometimes sends the recordings to people, so that they can go back in two years time and listen to how much they’ve changed. I said lame things like ‘I think I’m a spiritual person, but I’m not a religious person. We need to look inside ourselves to find what we are looking for in that department.’ I’m still scared to use the word God in sentences, it’s like saying Voldemort for me.
So maybe in two years time I will go back and listen to the recording, think how silly I was and how I thought I knew everything. I will probably be eating a large steak and consuming a vat of wine, hooting and tooting about that time I was a vegan for a month.
I have been staying with Sally, a friend of my mums, in a place called Newton Abbot for the last two nights. We have been cycling, I have taught her some yoga for her running and sacroiliac joints, she cooked me bacon (I love her) and I made her socca (chickpea pancakes) with Mediterranean vegetables. I definitely enjoy things more when they are a rare treat. If you have bacon every day, you tire of it (although some may disagree), but after a meat free month it was salty heaven. Her house is so cosy, I’m writing from her kitchen table and looking out over her garden filled with birds and bird feeders, and have just had porridge with her home made honey.
It’s a relief to find that the world goes on outside the bubble of Cranleigh House, and that not every conversation has to involve comments like “you just swallowed down an emotion. What was that emotion, Rosie?”
On to different things now, hopefully involving some sunshine in the not too distant future. Seriously, I’m blending into the white wallpaper.