We are no longer on the road. Oddly enough we find ourselves living back in London after a whirlwind three months spent touring parts of the UK. This week the dust will finally settle as we move into a shared flat in Mile End to accommodate for a work contract I have been lucky enough to start. This is pretty far from what we expected, but that is to be expected. We never expected that we’d travel without money, or that we wanted to be farmers, or that we’d be living on the floor of an exceptional friend’s living room in Peckham for a few weeks.
It has been an interesting, surprising and unexpected thing, returning to the city we vowed never to live in again, for health and happiness. Yet we are enjoying our time here immensely and are excited for the coming months. It really is as if we are seeing The City with fresh eyes and it has rekindled that heady sense of possibility and abundant variations of peculiar and enriching experiences that are exclusive to large cities.
Of course these feelings may diminish as the winter takes hold and the shine rubs off the edges to reveal the cold, dirty cogs at the core of this strange, car-centric, corner-heavy, high-speed thing we call a city. I’ve never seen a club-footed pigeon in the country-side.
Without our journey perhaps we would never have left London. That is a thought that scares me, because it was out in the sticks, in the faraway places, that I came to realise what kind of life I want to live. And it was in those same places that Emma and I came to realise what kind of life we want to live together. Now, having found that we have a shared goal and vision, everything in my life feels better. Even and especially the hard parts.
Just like time and winter can strip the joy from a city, so did life on the road pull down some heavy curtains and show me parts of myself I’ve been pleased to learn about. Throughout our history humans have gone to the unknown places to learn, to gain that all important perspective. With that we return and see things differently. The same applies again here in London, as I find myself with a riveting perspective on the journey we have taken.
This has been typed from our friend’s living room. We helped him to paint it, to move in his books and furniture. He has helped us many times more than that, sharing his space when we would otherwise be fairly homeless. Him and Emma are talking about permaculture and natural farming, and about personal spaces. Not personal space, personal spaces; the places that we make our own, that we work ourselves into and that work themselves into us. And at a time that perhaps could have been fairly traumatic for us, there is a tangible sense of optimism and hope. We’re each of us working away at various things, in various directions, all towards a positive future that is infused with recent trials good and bad, tough and fun, painful and fulfilling. It has been quite a ride.
It’s always good to be sat in a room with people who have a good perspective on things and who can inspire each other to keep the good side of busy (whichever side that might happen to be just then). To quote Anthony Swofford as he paraphrases Hemingway:
“We burn the fat off our souls.”