Monday, 4 April 2016

Travel when you can

When you're bored, and single, or you don't have anything pinning you to where you feel you should be: book some flights, and travel.

Get pushed back in your seat as the plane takes off, and leave everything that was worrying you or stressing you, or niggling at your heart, on the runway at Heathrow.

Resign it to lost property.

Do not ask for it back.

Stay in the sky for hours, a day and night, longer than most people will ever spend above the clouds. Then land, and wash your face, and get back on and do it again.

Arrive on the other side of the world, your concept of time gone topsy-turvy. The sun is shining and you're shedding layers outside the terminal; there goes your hoody, you're holding your coat.

Spend some time with friends.

Have decision-free days that revolve around brunch and booze, and beach, then gently excuse yourself from the slow moving group.

Split off from the comfortable, go-with-the-flow, someone-else-will-do-it mentality, and get on a different flight.

Hire a car, pay for a GPS.

Throw your backpack in the boot, start the engine, and feel the familiar what the fuck am I doing nerves you always get when you arrive somewhere on your own.

Pull over whenever you fancy it, watch the river for as long as you want. When you get going again, realise you've left your anxiety by the side of the road.

Do not turn back.

Drive to places you know, and places you don't. Book single rooms with communal living spaces, and sit where people can see you - on a sofa, in a kitchen, outside a library, in a cafe - and wait. Put down your phone. Smile at someone and say hello, how's your day been?

Talk to strangers. Do whatever they're doing the next day.

(Alone doesn't always mean being alone.)

Swap the conversations of home - relationships, and property, and careers - for stories about travel, and countries, and plans.

Sit on surf boards and count the waves that come in threes, sit on cliffs and point towards the next body of land.

At night after a few glasses of wine, sit on a wall, look down and talk about the size of the splashing, glittering fish.

Listen to lives that sound like the one you want now, instead of the one you left behind. Meet the sort of people you always look for in London, but never seem to find.

Spend time by yourself in the car, or in your room, or standing knee deep in the sea, and think about all the things you want to do.

Stop feeling too old to do them.

Eat fish and chips on a bench by the sea by yourself, with your sun-tinted face tilted upwards to sun, and your feet sticky with sand, and feel very much like you don't want to share any of it:

The experience, the photos, the chips.

Get back on the plane, curl up across two seats. Take your perspective home.

And make sure the next time you can, you travel, and even just once, or sometimes, or here and there, that you do it alone.


Jane said...

"Listen to lives that sound like the one you want now, instead of the one you left behind."

Beautiful. I love this.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Thank you Jane I'm glad you liked it.

James VT said...

I'm in the middle of doing the same thing right now, except it's winter time in Eastern Europe. I was going to feel bad that I was doing this alone, glad I found your writing.


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