It is quite a weird sensation packing things up, neatly storing things away for an unknown point in the future. Going through the accumulation of our 12 years together, every treasured ticket stub, band t-shirt, LP, poetry book, and that’s just the good stuff! In our house there was also the horror of consumerism laid out before us in its suffocating glory! Every daft purchase, every emotional sale shop or hungover online click. All that stuff you didn’t need but fleetingly wanted. In order to tackle some of my most consumerist behaviour, and save money as we prepared for the break, I banned myself from shopping for clothes for 5 months. I’ll admit it was tough but liberating, in as much I was confronted with realising how easy is to part with cash on an impulsive lunchtime or wander-through-Zara on the way home. It’s all too easy to fill our houses with crap and then clear it all out when we move and in a panic contribute piles to the expanding landfill. It’s all very personal, some of us hoard, some of us shop, some of us can’t part with things. I needed to tackle this to know what matters to me, what makes me feel good and means more than the endless search to fill emptiness with things. I don’t want to be too evangelical about a temporary shopping ban, but I’d thoroughly recommend a break from it – it will save your mind as well as money. When I caved last week and replaced a worn out pair of jeans, I can’t deny the satisfaction of the purchase in its neat paper-bag swinging in the crook of my arm in the Spring lunchtime sun. Yes, it felt great, but it didn’t make me satisfied. It was good to recognise the difference between wanting and desire – the western capitalist ideal, and needing, the necessities of life.
This is just one of the strange sensations I have felt in the weeks since January when work plans fell into place – trying to tackle the immediate task list – sorting out the house, getting all the practicalities aligned ready to rent it , lots of admin and quick decisions to be made. This runs in total contradiction to the control I like to have for the long view. I’ve suddenly been forced to think about the next few days, not the months ahead. A shift to this mindful idea of now, living in the present, instead of my comfort-zone of the the amorphous concept of “the future”. It is happening right now, all of sudden like an avalanche that just means getting on with it is the only way. We have been holding on and that feels scary, but a good kind of scary. Like a swim out in unknown waters you’ve got to catch the current and keep going on the wave.
I write this on the East Coast Train after three days in my hometown, spending time with family and catching up with people who mean a lot to me, I’ve been trying not to think about the time apart – 6 months easily passes without seeing lots of each other. We’ll still stay in touch online and over the phone, busily catching up on scattered flashes of our lives and sharing photos to illustrate the pain and heartfelt joys over whatsapp. But I will miss the physicality of relationships, seeing people and connecting in person is never really substituted by the virtual world. But sometimes it can bring us closer, offering a more confessional ,more entertaining version of ourselves. This virtual presence takes effort, consideration and practice. I am confident I’ll stay in touch where it matters. And accept the distance where it doesn’t. After all, some say that home is just a state of mind.
The sun is flashing across the flat plains of Yorkshire, a flirty warmness offering just a hint of the good growing season ahead. This is my favourite time of the year – the crocuses blanket in purple hues and daffodils sway buoyantly in the breeze. I left my dad planting onion sets and ‘tiddling’ in the garden, he’s started off broad beans and sweet peas. This is all the practical but rewarding prep I love in the start of the year; starting off seedlings watching them respond to the warming temperatures, sorting out planting plans and new varieties to try. It feels like weeks of delicious promise as nature responds to the changes ahead.
I have missed this gardening phase already and am sure that I will miss my garden greatly. But new growing adventures await in a real Greek garden…