I once held somebody in my arms and the rest of the world disappeared for an evening, I suppose that’s as close as I ever came to being in love. I saw the girl who gave me that feeling again last week and it rocked my world.
‘It rocked my world’, that’s the kind of gimmicky line you’d hear in some crap film. However unfortunately this phrase was the thought that popped into my head as my mind dissected the aftermath of our meeting and I like to be truthful to my head as I put it down on paper (/iPad). In fact, it was probably a crap film that sparked the thought, it was probably one of those thoughts where you suddenly understand what those films are talking about in the midst of their clichy nonsense. For suddenly nothing made sense as I found myself walking bare-footed across Hyde Park later that evening. Mission Total Immersion could go fuck itself for all I cared, and for all my words I can’t explain how my mind started to function then, it went off, it lost belief in every other thought or idea I’d had in the last few months, it wondered if the only reason I’d left London was because i was running away from something. Was that something her? I wondered. I’m not sure if she ever completely left my mind.
Or was it responsibility? As much as I’d like to acredit this girl with giving me a nervous breakdown, instead I feel she may have only been the trigger that set off a host of other feelings, feelings which had already been building up in me for a while. Perhaps what I’m witnessing now is just the strange and inevitable crescendo to a hidden feast of doubts. I went away from my country to go travelling, and I went travelling to learn something or at least to find new experiences. In these new experiences I’m finding, in this quest to learn of another country, I’ve started to wonder if the only something I learned is that I love my own country, the people that have loved me for their whole life, and the friendships that I forged through a lifetime (or atleast a 24 year lifetime). And if these things are all the things I love, then why have I already booked my tickets for MTI3, to another country and another adventure (one which will take me away for the best part of a year)? I’ve begun to fear that I only keep deciding to go away because this adventure allows me to have a sense of productivity while also allowing me to run away from all the responsibilities of life back in London. For I wasn’t going anywhere while I was there, and I don’t think I could’ve gone on being so stagnant. Two choices hence came my way; go adventure and learn of the world, or change my life in London, do proper things and start building a proper life. Given that a proper life would mean working more than 2 hours a day (an idea I loathe), the right choice seemed obvious. Screw the 9-5 right? Go out there, be free, but learn other languages, become more enlightened and wisened, and thus come back to London ready to build an even better life, mixing myself with all the communities that exist there from round the world. Then I win in every way, I thought.
But I don’t win in every way. I miss out because right now I lose living life with these people that I’m so lucky to have known. Perhaps I’ve run away from responsibility at the cost of all the things and people that are most important to me. And if I know that London is inevitably where I want to be, then surely I’m wasting time taking this completely indirect route towards making a better life there; why don’t I just go back to the city and start doing it properly now? What’s the point of learning other cultures and languages if I never plan on living in them? This time that I’m spending out here is all time that could be spent making something for myself in my home, finding myself a life, maybe even finding myself a girlfriend. Being home made me realise how little I’d been able to communicate in these last few months, not just because of barriers created by languages, but barriers that people put up between people, barriers that only fall as more time is spent with each other, barriers that I’ve spent years eroding with all those I’m close to at home. I’m starting to realise that you don’t need to start pedalling through foreign countries just to have an adventure and an experience, maybe you can find something much more special sticking around, watching your own twists and turns, and how they intwine with those close to you. An adventure is a mentality, it’s not bike-dependent.
I once met a man nicknamed Johnny Too-Bad and the first thing he said was ‘Sam, don’t try Heroine, because either you hate it, and you’re fucked, or you like it, and well, you’re fucked’. I remembered this as I was walking through Hyde Park that night and was questioning what reason had made me even go to see that girl in the first place, the girl whose meeting with me, unless all this timing is coincidence, seems to be at the root of the sudden and vigorous uprising of my perhaps dormant doubts and questions. In those moments I thought that seeing ex-girlfriends, passions, loves, whatever you want to call them, is probably a lot like Johnny Too-Bad’s heroine connundrum… as either you see them and have a shit time, and thus walk away sad for the experience, or you see them and have an amazing time, and you walk away sad that the time you just had is not a part of your life, sad that you might’ve missed out on something. As in, either way, you like it or you don’t, you’ll walk away fucked.
Missing out on something. That’s the next thing too, what she reminded me of perhaps, or at least more the emotion I felt when I was with her again, it showed me something I’d never had; a long-term girlfriend, the feeling of being in love. Of all the things I’d thought I would’ve done by the time I was 24, this would’ve surely been somewhere near the top, and despite spending my 24th birthday wangling free drinks and accomodation in a 4 star hotel with two gorgeous blonde German twins, I distinctly remember a moment of sadness as this realisation swooped through me, a fluttering instant, but one that took me momentarily completely away from the room I was in, from everything else that was going on.
Missing out on something. Perhaps that’s it, for this feeling of missing out on something could also be the force that is sending me round the world, this feeling that there are things going on that I haven’t experienced or will be a part of. Out of all the things I ever could’ve missed out on, perhaps that evening I saw the greatest. For this feeling, this desire to have had all these experiences, it’s something so strong that it can make me hyperventialte as I ghost through new cities on my bike. I use the word ghost as that is sometimes what I feel like as I ride through new places, often wishing that I could have another life, and another, one for each place that captures me. And in particular I remember this feeling most vividly as I moved through Leipzig last year, its beauty brought me this euphoria, while simultaneously I was rocked by this overcoming desire to know the city, to have lived its life, and this life that I had not lived there and all the things that had happened and would happen that I would never be apart of swarmed me and for a moment made it so I could barely breathe. I can’t have these lives, I just have mine, I can’t have one for every place, a different life for every one of life’s backgrounds, and instead I can only pass through each city, leaving just the smallest imprint; perhaps a fleeting memory from one or two people that saw me and wondered what I was doing. I sometimes exit these places so emotional, craving everything, yet having touched so little, like the house poltergheist who watched and yearned so much to be a part of the home he saw around him, but in the end could do no more than go, leaving only a smudged fingerprint upon the glass frame of one family photograph standing on the mantlepiece.
Though despite any regrets or missed experiences, I’d always felt proud of who I’d become. If the Sam of today is a result of the 24 years that preceded him, then I shouldn’t wish them to change. But we are different people in front of different people, we assume different roles, and perhaps it was the role I took that evening that truly caused this shock to my system. In the last few years I feel that I’ve grown so much, become so strong and in control, of my mind, of my life, of my desires. When I meet people, the idea that they couldn’t like me doesn’t even enter my mind, perhaps not out only out of cofidence but through lack of insecurity also, a lack of care as to whether they do or don’t. But when I saw her, how quickly I regressed to the boy four years ago who pined so deeply for an illusive affection, a boy that never believed that he could have this girl, a boy who doubted himself. The nerves returned, the doubts, it wasn’t myself that turned up to that meeting, but some shade of my past. Somebody who doubted themselves, their own capabilities, I stopped believing I was so special. I’m of belief that this shade then stayed with me, he talked to me, and he flung himself into every other area of my world, and the result is what you see here. I even saw a friend a few days later and was envious of him, how he looked, talked, what he was upto, the life he’d lived. I’d never felt this emotion before, or at least for so many years that I can barely remember it. And in fact it was in this moment that I really knew something had gone wrong.
And now I wish I had an ending to write, but unfortunately this story isn’t really over, and it doesn’t have one yet. The above is what I’ve thought recently. The above is how I feel. This is my life, it’s a bit confused at the moment, and I’ll just have to see how it feels tomorrow.
Good to be back though. I’m sorry if anyone missed me.