“The natural world is an endless source of discovery that is free and accessible to us at all times” – Claire Thompson. (Mindfulness and the Natural World)
I haven’t written a blog before, or written much at length with the intention of somebody else reading it. I have read many blogs over the years, mostly written by friends of mine, or people that I’ve stalked on the internet (only joking… kind of). Anyway, this being my first (attempt at a) blog, I’m not sure where to begin. Everyone says a blog should display your true self, and your character and personality within the writing. So, umm… HEY, WHATS UP, HIGHFIVE MOTHERFU… only joking. I’ll try to bottle my “crazy” when writing, as I’d like to have more than just my mum who reads my blog.
So, a good place to begin would be to explain a little about myself. As I absolutely DETEST, LOATHE, HOPE THE MERE IDEA OF IT BURNS IN THE DEPTHS OF HELL… describing myself (example: My original CV had “I like doing everything and I can play the piano but not very well), I asked a couple of my friends to describe me in a few short sentences and this is what I was presented with:
“I used to fancy you until I got to know you and now I don’t” P.W
“A future news item” P.R
“A beautifully, chaotic, complicated, chicken nugget loving, darling” VDP.
“An enigma” F.M
“Ray of sunshine, my pride and joy” J.F
“Why are you asking me that but you never reply to my messages? Thanks Perri” JJ.J
“Needs a hug” S.N.M
“Perri is hardworking, creative, funny, self-deprecating, introspective and daring… There you go. Oh, can I call you Stabdorable? Does “Stabdorable” count?” A.A
“Chicken nugget connoisseur” S.M
“I wish you were a radio DJ as you’d be very entertaining” S.W
“Fiercely intelligent, hilarious, beautiful and a little bit mental” D.D.L
“Funny, talented, warm hearted and hot as hell” T.R.R
“A fucking pain in the ass that would have lost her head if it wasn’t screwed on” D.G
“Self-deprecating, quick witted, far less confident than you should be and one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know” N.L
…So, I revert back to where I said I asked my “friends”… some of them are now EX friends. *sassy finger clicks*
ANYWAY. Moving swiftly forward.
Most of my posts will be about my recent move from England to France, and in time I’ll bore you with the details of how that came about, why I left, and all the other crap that comes with it. For now though, the focus of my writing will be the transition from one country to another and with that, one lifestyle to another.
I guess a good place to begin would be “moving day”. When you hear people say “moving day”, you imagine lots of neatly packed cardboard boxes, a removal lorry, weeks of prior planning and preparation, those cute little “Good luck in your new home” cards, from people you kind of know, but don’t really know, as a “Here, something to begin cluttering your new home with shit you don’t want or need. You’re welcome. Probably won’t see you soon, but I’ll say it anyway because I’m British and being unnecessarily polite is what we do. Love from, Susan, you know, the one you don’t like”.
(I may have edited the wording slightly, but my point still stands. Don’t be a “Susan”).
My moving day wasn’t like this at all. In fact, it was more of a “moving morning”. I decided on the Wednesday (later blogs will explain why) that I’d make the move, and by sunrise on Thursday, I was on a plane heading South. (or South East. Like, kind of south but also to the right a bit… and no, geography also isn’t one of my strong points).
I didn’t sleep that whole night. I think I went through every emotion humanly possible in those few hours. I was scared – I’ve never been on a plane by myself before. Only last month had I managed a train journey alone, and even that resulted in a panic attack and a few messages to my friends of “AM I ALLOWED TO DRINK WINE ON A TRAIN BECAUSE IM NERVOUS AND I DON’T THINK IM GOING TO MAKE IT OUT OF HERE ALIVE”. (I don’t have many friends, by the way). I also was nervous. I’ve always been the kind of person to either throw myself into something 100%, or to not bother at all. There is no in between. I mean, if you’re not going to give it your all, what’s the point in trying? This has its advantages, and disadvantages, Advantages being, I’ve lived a very full and … colourful… life. I’ve had hundreds of experiences that many people my age haven’t and I’m grateful for all of those, the good and the bad. It also means that I’ve had a LOT of fun. Granted, that “fun” wasn’t always safe or appropriate, and on many occasions got me into a lot of trouble and the ‘fun’ turned out to be completely the opposite, but there were also many occasions I felt like the happiest girl in the world. The disadvantages of that are, the harder you throw yourself into something, the harder you’ll fall if it doesn’t work out. This “not working out” thing, is something I’m very used to. Again, I’ll revert back to this at another time.
I grew up in a family where my parents owned a company, and “work” wasn’t a job, it was a lifestyle. I look back now and think that factor in my childhood, was one of the best and most character-shaping things I experienced. Nowadays you see a lot of this “competitive parenting” (I’m sure there’s a technical term for it that I’m unaware of) where parents comment, judge, insult and mock the way other parents are raising their children. “You let your son stay up past 8pm, you’re a bad mum”. “She’s allowed a boyfriend at 14? Don’t you think that’s too soon?”. “You’ve painted her nails? Tarty”. “You let him play with barbies? Don’t you think that’s asking for trouble?”. “You shouldn’t let her have facebook. Don’t you read the news?”.
I’m not even a parent and I feel angry (surprise, surprise) about that. Who cares? As long as you’re raising a child who is happy, healthy and safe, I’m sure you’re doing a pretty good job. There is no “right” way to bring up a child. Everybody is different, and we all have our own morals, values and ideas of what is important in life, and what isn’t. Just because your ideas may differ to someone else’s, it doesn’t mean you’re any closer to being “right” than they are. (That specific theory will be sustained throughout my blog posts because it’s something I feel strongly about).
I was an only child up until my beautiful little brother, Alex, was born. In the 5 years leading up to his birth, my parents worked A LOT. They worked almost 7 days a week, and all over the world. In my years, I have heard that as a possible cause for my behaviour as a teen/young adult and I, as eye witness numero uno, can tell you that’s bullshit. I went everywhere with my mum and dad, and I loved it. I think I was on my first trip abroad before I hit 6 months (Florida). I was living the baby dream. If my parents had given up work to stay home with me, I wouldn’t have had the upbringing and the privileges and experiences that they gave me. Their work was essential to provide us with the life we wanted, and from a young age I was very aware of that. It taught me that if you want something in life, you have to work hard to get it. However, the idea that “the more you put into something, the more you get out”, doesn’t always work – but again, I will touch on that in later blog posts.
SO ANYWAY… I can’t remember where I was now.
Ah yes, MOVING MORNING.
(I’ll add some important info here: My parents moved to France 3 months ago, and I stayed in England to continue my life there, as that’s where my boyfriend, my job, friends etc all were. As I will explain at a later date, I no longer have any of those).
So here I am. Full of emotions, stood in Heathrow airport at 5am, sporting a very fetching white coat covered in black shit from where I fell over getting out the taxi (clumsiness will also be a recurring theme), holding a single red suitcase and my passport, staring at a giant screen which just seemed to be full of letters and numbers. I only took one suitcase. The rest I left in England. I had just a few hours to pack, and I also only own one suitcase. I had to pick the most important things to me to take. (Prepare yourself)… bear in mind it was late at night and being full of emotion… my priorities were perhaps slightly skewed. I basically only packed some clothes, a hairdryer, tampons, and a stripy hairclip I found in the bathroom which I’ve never worn but packed anyway, because, you know… had a bit of room left in the case and thought “fuck it. YOLO”.
So, I worked my way through all the airport palaver, and got to security. Isn’t it strange how, even though you know you’re innocent and don’t have a bomb (am I allowed to say that?) in your luggage, THE FEAR OF SECURITY STILL SETS IN. I started panicking, even worked up a bit of a sweat. What if they find something? What if I accidentally put scissors in my bag for some unknown reason and I get arrested and sent to Guantanamo? What if they find my tampons and I have to explain why I, a young woman, am carrying tampons? I walked through that big beepy machine – again, probably a technical term for it but I don’t have time to ask Siri – and it didn’t go off. Phew. I have survived round one. Now I wait at the end of the conveyor belt for my bag to come through. At this point, again, even though you know you’re not guilty or smuggling crack in your handback, you can’t help but feel like you’re about to get busted for something. You don’t want to appear nervous, but the more you try NOT to look nervous, the more you look like you have snow white and the 7 dwarves crammed into the side compartment of your handbag. Anyway, I didn’t, and I walked off calmly (still shaking from the legs down) into the airport. I felt like Macauley Culkin from Home Alone. I didn’t actually know what to do with myself, so I did what any self-respecting adult woman would do, and I went and had a full English fry up at Wagamamas. (If you didn’t know they did breakfast – they do – and its infuckingcredible).
So anyhoo, time to board my flight. Did I mention that I am TERRIFIED OF FLYING? No? No.. I had also forgotten this tiny detail, amidst all the chaos, and was now harshly reminded of this as I sat down in my seat (right at the back. BASTARDS), and looked out the window. Alas, my anxiety hit me like Miley on a wrecking ball.
Was the wing meant to look like that? Is that smoke coming from it? Is it meant to do that? What was that noise? I’m sure engines don’t usually make that noise. Why is no one sitting next to me? Oh god. This is all part of some massive kidnap plan and I’m going to die. Why hasn’t that guy put his rucksack under his seat? The fuck is he hiding in there? What’s that smell? Can anyone else smell petrol? Let me look at everyone else’s faces and see if they look like they can smell petrol.
So this continued all the way until we took off. Now, I have a habit of exaggerating things when relaying a story so I will do this as honestly and factually correct as possible. *clears throat* THE FLIGHT WAS THE WORST THING I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. I ALMOST DIED AND I AM STILL TRAUMATISED FROM WHAT WENT ON UP THERE.
So we had a bit of “turbulence”. Turbulence is a fucking understatement. This was like some horror rollercoaster but longer and with just as much screaming (from me). If you hate flying as much as I do, you’ll be able to relate to what I call “The Voice of Survival”. This, is that little voice in your head that, the second the plane hits a bump, starts planning your means of exiting the plane, and methods of survival, for when the inevitable happens – the plane catches fire and you crash to the ground in a burning ball of doom. The voice starts by locating the exits and then it starts planning. “OK, so the guy in front looks like he’s a little curvy. You can jump on him, and use him as a raft. You could fashion a parachute out of the table cloths behind you that could work. Your life jacket has a whistle, just keep blowing it. Someone will hear. You can survive without food or water for 5 days. You’ll be fine. You’ll get through this. In the words of Gloria Gaynor, you will survive”.
We landed in Toulouse (by some kind of miracle) in one piece.
Holy sweet lordy jesus. I have made it, by myself, to a different country. I haven’t lost anything, I haven’t died, I haven’t killed anyone, I appear to still have all my arms and legs. This is all too good to be true. As ridiculous as it sounds, I felt a small sense of achievement. I had a lot of independence taken away from me the last few years (mostly through fault of my own, which I’ll explain at a later date), and the last few months I’d felt like I wasn’t capable of doing ANYTHING without help, without screwing up, or without causing a problem. Yet, here I was. Although only a small thing, I felt proud and relieved, I’d made it. Before I move onto the drama that hit on the way back to the house in France, I’d just like to use this opportunity to express my desire for airports to design a more user-friendly way of retrieving ones suitcase from the conveyor belt without having to use all levels of strength to inelegantly drag it off and down on the floor. My toe (and my dignity) is still bruised and I’m pretty sure the nails about to fall off.
My mum picked me up from the airport (after I had gone to the car park at the wrong end of the airport, and then had to walk all the way back past everyone bearing a smile that said “hah. I totally meant to do that”. I didn’t I gave Mum a hug and we got in the car. Remember when I said how smoothly everything was going? I tempted fate by even thinking that. Half an hour from the airport, and an hour away from the house, a noise started coming from the engine that sounded like someone had got out a drum kit and started playing Phil Collins in there. There is a time and a place for Phil, and it’s not in your engine on a French motorway. Just as we pulled over onto the hard shoulder, the power steering went, so thank god we pulled over when we did, otherwise it would have been a different story. Excellent, we’re now stuck an hour from home, no breakdown cover in France yet, no idea where the hell we were, right on the edge of the motorway and the car now won’t even start. You’d think it can’t get any worse, right? It started to piss down with rain. Marvellous. We got out the car, put hazards on, and went and stood up the bank behind a barrier (safety first, kids). It was around this point, I started to regret wearing heeled black boots for the flight, as I was now ankle deep in mud, in the pissing rain, kissing goodbye to my beloved Jimmy Choos. (RIP, gone but never forgotten xx). Thankfully, Dad had stayed home – so he had his car with him and was able to come to our rescue (after figuring out how to send him our location via iMessage). It was like a modern day Enid Blyton novel… only with 3 of us, and an iPhone.
Dad came, picked us up and we were eventually able to find a garage, who drove straight to mums stranded car on the motorway, recovered it and immediately got to work on it! It was really strange, the man at the garage didn’t even ask any questions, he just hopped straight in the truck with Dad and off they went. (My mum and I may have quickly nipped to McDonalds in that time and got some chicken nuggets and a burger, but if anyone asks… that never happened).
They determined that the engine was ruined and needed replacing, and they’d keep it in and let us know the next week how much it would be.
Off we set, again, and we arrived at the house. I’ve posted some photos of the house and surroundings. I’ll do another post all about the house, why they chose it and the plans for the future and business later on.
My aim is for my blog to be all about life here, and the differences to England, the challenges, the successes, failures, decisions, fun, stress, adventures and everything else that comes with it. I’ve been here 4 days now, and while I’m settling in, I’m still slightly overwhelmed and anxious about what lies ahead, but I’m happy, and for now that will do. Change is always scary and unnerving, a difference in routine takes time to adjust to, but if what’s you want, then it’s worth the ride.
I’ll finish by saying that no matter what you do, or don’t do in life, there will always be somebody who disagrees or judges you. You can’t live life letting your happiness depend on other people, or your self-worth come from the opinion of others. Life is too short, and you just get one shot at it. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to have good days and bad days, it’s ok to not be 100% sure of everything all the time. We learn from mistakes, loss and love. Sometimes you have to cut the chains holding you down, before you are able to fly.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like” – Lao Tzu (Chinese philosopher).