(Above and Beyond Flight EK544)
I got a message from an old friend the other day, reminding me to play my turn in our virtual game of Scrabble, and wondering how my exams were going. It took me a moment to realise that a) most university students were taking exams at the time, and b) he still thought I was a student at the University of East Anglia. I’m sure there is a universe where this is the case, but it’s not in this one.
Back in September, shortly after deciding not to commence my studies at the university, I considered making some sort of public announcement. A blog post, or something scrawled on your Facebook feeds. Lightning changes of heart are made of the same thing as poetry, though, and what I can describe as ‘I was looking for another uninsulated kitchen to call love (and love is a warm place)’ in my notebooks was more likely to get question marks than comprehension that I was no longer in Norwich. The closest I can get to colloquial is to say that it was the wrong place and time, and I was unwilling to unpack my roots for three years in England.
The very same night that I sat in a half-unpacked dorm room in Norfolk in telephony with my incredulous father, the plan that became the journey I’m now on began to ferment. Nearly five months later, I’m sitting at a desk, barefoot and warm enough, at the Krishnamurti Centre in Chennai. This autumn I worked, and saved, and planned, and the results look something like this…
- February 12th: Begin volunteering at Pathashaala.
- March 26th: Fly to Bali to meet up with family, friends, and musical instruments.
- April 27th: Arrive in Japan, for five weeks’ volunteering through Workaway, and a couple of weeks with a friend and a rail pass.
- June 29th: Homeward bound.
The funny thing is, although I have many plans ahead of me, they’ve been made already. There is nothing more to do. Sitting on a rock below a semi-tropical tree I don’t recognise this afternoon, I realised that my only work now is to be here. Creatively speaking, it’s already going well; I’ve already written more today than I have in the past five months of pulling metaphors out like teeth.
It’s easy to entertain the idea that I’ve wasted time. I could have started university in September, I could have travelled last year, I could have… But over the past year and a half since leaving Brockwood, I have bubbled, and simmered, and boiled, and stood stone-cold-still like a good soup, something that takes time in the making. I don’t have an objective for the next 139 days other than to explore the inner world and the outer, and to become a concoction that tastes even better to my mind’s senses. I already know that ‘gap’ years make excellent seasoning.