Counting down – 3 days to go

There’s a nip in the air and the weather forecast for later is rain and then more rain, but for now the sun has made an appearance behind the trees and is setting the branches on fire. The air is fresh with scents of earth, blossom and rotting leaves and no matter how much I love to travel, I love this place more. I never realize how much I miss it till I return, then like a lover grown fonder by separation, I rediscover its contours, textures, smells, and sensuality. Today, my last full day here before I set off to Newcastle to stay with family before flying out, I take a breath and hold it, hold everything dear to me inside and let it flow through my veins. This is what sustains me.

I moved here in 2003, more to run away from than to run to anything. I needed sanctuary, somewhere to sit still for a while and release my self-destructive forces. It was only later, as I opened up emotionally and spiritually, that I recognized the deep connection I have with place and that all my travelling has been a search to find that connection. Until then I had been looking for a connection with people; it was a revelation to find I’d been looking in the wrong places.

If you’ve grown up always feeling invisible, overlooked or unimportant there are many ways of dealing with it. Mine has always been to shout louder, be more extrovert, demand attention, dress and behave outrageously. I have had varying amounts of success with that strategy but it hasn’t really made me endearing or good in relationships. I still carry the vestiges of my younger self, but in this more mellow period of my life I have learnt to sit still and appreciate not having to be the centre of anyone’s attention. I live alone, by choice, and fully embrace a life of contrasts, of periods of manic activity meshed with others of quiet reflection. This place allows me to gather together all the disparate parts of me that I used to find difficult to align, and be happy with who I am. Of course, like any recovering egotist I fall off the wagon now and again, but I’m happy to say that’s not as often as it used to be. Maybe there’s hope for me yet?

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