On Friday evening, I went to bed at 8:20pm. Before I went to bed, I browsed through Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals books and ordered enough ingredients for the rest of this week. I treated myself to some ice cream and some quiet pages of my book before slipping off to sleep.
It’s fair to say that things have got a little quieter since we’ve been back. My days are either spent working or looking after the baby. In between, I try to cram in as many minutes of writing as I can, along with cleaning the house (so much more now she’s crawling), doing yet more washing and generally picking up after a tiny person.
A far cry from the days when, just a few months back, we were trekking through rainforests and glimpsing wild creatures, or strolling through museums, or taking a day to go cave diving. Sometimes I look at the pictures of us and it feels like a vivid dream. How on earth could we have gone all that way, done all those things, with a baby?
You would think it would be boring. It sounds boring. The truth is, I haven’t really had time to be bored. Going back to teaching after six weeks is always traumatic enough, so nearly a year has got me feeling like I’ve never stood in front of a classroom before. And it’s not just the actions, the physical matter of it, that is proving challenging.
The first week, even without the kids, I had a persistent headache that only lifted when I left the building. The second week, when the kids came back, I wanted to cry at the end of every day. The third week, I was feeling more on top of things, but was nodding off on the bus on my way home. It’s fair to say that it’s been a challenge.
But there’s something to be said for all this business, all this ‘doing.’ I’m reconnecting with colleagues. On my way to work, I have precious minutes that are all mine, so I’m getting through my pile of ‘to read’ books much quicker than I was. Because the gaps are small, I’m filling them better. I’ve actually been writing. And as for the household stuff, it’s a necessary evil, but I did miss the cooking.
And then there’s her. Not to get too gushy, but she’s in a mesmerising state of discovery at the moment. Moving and using her body, eating everything she can get her hands on, moving and using every toy or object she can get her hands on in as many ways as she can. It’s fascinating to watch. All I need to deal with is the emotional gymnastics that happens whenever I’m away, and I’m all set.
Last weekend, we went for a walk in the park. We found ourselves talking about nothing in particular. I paused by a tree, realising that we hadn’t had one of these meandering conversations in weeks. After spending all of our time together while travelling, we were now able to ask each other about our days, having not been there.
Enjoying the outdoors
The muddled, messy dream of travel has given way to the muddled, messy experience of everyday life. I’ve found ‘normal’ things far more fun as they now have novelty value, as well as sighing over those I really didn’t miss. I’m not sure there’s any such thing as normal, or boring, for that matter. Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective. Of enjoying the things in front of you, no matter what they are.