On the inevitable TTFN, and getting back into life in London.
"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?"
I know it's not an exciting adventure, and I know the opinion of some will be that I should lay Stories to rest now that I'm back. But being back in the UK is just another adventure, and to ignore the seemingly less pleasant elements of travel: the end of an adventure, the goodbyes, and the return to 'home', would be a disservice to the experience.
I could say that it was easy to slot back into London life. In some ways it was. I flew back on the Saturday, moved back into my flat on Sunday and went back to work on the Monday. Before returning, I think I was scared that everything would have changed dramatically and I wouldn't feel comfortable any more. But of course six months really isn't that long when it comes down to it, and most things don't change that much. But, perhaps strangely, I don't think I gave much consideration to how I had changed. So I think that was the hardest thing coming back: suddenly I realised I didn't want it to just be 'comfortable' slotting back in. I didn't want it to be a quick and easy process to return to London because 'returning' sounded like regressing. Suddenly I was clawing to hold onto my learnings, my experiences, and to ensure myself that I was a different person. Not a fundamentally different person, but maybe I saw things differently six months previously. Coming back from such a wildly different immersive experience I was scared that the closer I got back to my London life, the further I was from the progress I'd made in my time away. I do love London. But loving this city - this symbol of excess, of over-eating, over-drinking, over-charging (I mean we're talking about a place that charges you 30p to use the toilet, "per visit"), a pinnacle of capitalism and development - is so wildly different from the things I loved in Mauritius. As is immersing myself in the fashion world again, when I had just plunged head first into conservation. I don't believe in doing things half-heartedly, and how can you do things properly if you are not fully committed? It was a huge switch to make so quickly. And I'm not saying I've got it all figured out now, but I did recently read a book extract on 'finding your third dimension' - you have your work, your personal life, and what? What is your third dimension? I was so worried that it had to be fashion or conservation, sometimes I was even playing down my love of conservation and everything I had fallen in love with in that world for fear that in my work life, everyone would think I was ready and set to leave fashion. But now I realise: whilst I currently work in fashion, conservation is my third dimension and I can and should champion it for all it's worth.
Then, of course, I miss Mauritius. I miss the beach, the sunsets, well, the sunshine in general. Most of all I miss my Mauritius friends, the "us" that we were together.
The first mentions of goodbyes are enough to get my bottom lip quivering and eyes doing some profuse blinking to prevent the inevitable leakage (that inexplicably I just cannot stop once it starts, really, it has a life of its own). So I tend to set an embargo on any discussion of them rather early on in the matter. I know some people say that you 'get used to it' and they don't find it sad any more. But for me, saying goodbye to people who you have shared so many amazing times with, who you've come to rely on, and would very happily have in hanging-out-all-the-time distance, never seems to get any easier. And honestly, I hope it never gets easier. But I believe that when you form a true friendship with someone a little bit of your soul becomes part of them. Then, when you separate your soul has to stretch itself over that distance and that is always going to be a painful experience. You and your loved ones will inevitably take different paths, move onto new adventures and although it hurts to separate, you'll take a little of each other with you everywhere.
So really, to quote Richard Bach: "Can miles truly separate you from friends? If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?"