I appear to have been ambushed by life. It waited for me in a side street and then just jumped me, coshed me on the head with a sock full of sand and stole my va va voom. I have spent the last few months lying, dazed and confused in a metaphorical back alley trying to find the strength to get up again. I’m now half sitting, half lying, which is progress of sorts.
On Wednesday I had the day off work so I got on a train and went to visit friends who live 60 miles or so away. It rained constantly, so after a delicious lunch we trudged around a shopping centre, our sodden trousers flapping around our ankles and looked at things we couldn’t afford. It sounds dull but it was something to do and it enabled me to raise my mugged top half from the cobbles. I love travelling by train. I love the fact that you can get on a moving vehicle and sit down and do nothing and it will just whizz you into a new environment with no effort on your part. I thought it a good bit of marketing, the advert which said ‘let the train take the strain’. I had a rucksak instead of a hangbag, which always makes me feel like I might be running away: a good feeling. At the station I had to fight the tendency to just get on a train to London and have an adventure. I stood in front of a massive billboard advertising a performance of Madame Butterfly and I felt tears welling at the back of my eyes: I’ve never seen Madame Butterfly, I’ve never been to the Albert Hall and I want to. In fact, to subvert the lyrics of an awful song, I’ve never been to Georgia or California or anywhere I could run, taken the hand of a preacher man and made love in the sun, or been to paradise but I have been to me and frankly it was jolly hard work and a bit fraught. If I could, I’d write a strongly worded letter to the travel agent who sold me this damn awful holiday demanding my money back.
I’ve been a mother for almost 20 years, and for at least three quarters of that I’ve been going it alone and it’s made my world somewhat small and confined. As I bed down in to my 40s and learn more about destination ‘me’ I realise that I am a person who would like to put on a rucksak and get a train to London and see Madame Butterfly and that’s just for starters: Georgia, California and paradise here I come. But here I don’t, because I have a mortgage and children and a job in addition to ageing parents: the wild woman I feel chuntering away just below the surface, who at last has the confidence to start exploring, to have an adventure, to live out of a rucksack, to take a train or a plane to somewhere new and to talk to strangers along the way, has to find a less dramatic way to break free or she will hurt those that depend upon her.