This moment is a difficult one. I’ve been bitten by bed bugs which has made my entire body itch. It’s maddening, and as always the ailments of the body are affecting the mind. Steve has also realised he has to go to America for five weeks to shoot Continuum. I was hoping it’d be three. I know it’s not long but today it feels like it and I can’t decide what I’m going to do while he’s gone. I was going to do a month-long yoga course but I can’t find one. Two of my friends were going to come visit but they can’t anymore.
There are many things I could do, so many places I could go, but I’m in that abhorrent place where because one thing hasn’t gone the way I wanted, everything else seems unsatisfactory. It’s an ugly emotion but one I’m familiar with. It’s something I want to get better at, and one of the things this trip is about.
When you’re on the other side of the world, you realise there’s no escaping yourself. I learned this at times when travelling while my Mum was ill or when I was recovering from a break-up. If anything, being away amplifies your emotions. There’s no humdrum to hide behind or use as an excuse. There are hundreds of new and wonderful distractions, but you’re still in your same mind. You still feel awkward in a group of extroverts, you worry about what people think and you miss your Mum.
The good side
But without the habits of home, you can see more clearly – you’re left with what’s important. You get to know yourself – flaws and follies included. You learn what it is you like and don’t like, what you’ll keep and what you can work on. You have the time and space to think and reflect on what’s good and bad for you and how you can challenge yourself. You can see that it’s your own problem that you’re sad you’re boyfriend’s going away, and that beneath the initial ‘oh’, you’re actually excited for him and proud of what he’s doing. You embrace the challenge of being alone and recognise that moments like this are nourishing for relationships. Despite things not being how you hoped, you realise you can be excited by what they might be.
Not everyone will do this, but for me travelling is both escape and confrontation – an escape from what you know and a confrontation with who you are. Perhaps that’s partly where the old adage of going travelling to find yourself comes from – and that’s exactly what I set out to do. I want to know who I am and how to be happy in that. Sometimes it’s a struggle, sometimes it’s joyous, but it’s all part of the journey I want to be on. The medicine is working.