Roaming The Lands Of Nether And Post Work Cleansing

Dear blog, oh how I have been avoiding you. I am in a constant state of having an incredible amount to say but absolutely no words. Doing and experiencing so much but having nada to talk about, zero way of expressing it. Isn’t the purpose of a blog supposed to be an outlet for your thoughts and feelings etc.? So how and why have I managed to turn it into negative, like an irritating child demanding my attention, like an unopened final demand letter putting pressure on me to respond.

I’m currently in Noordwijk, a cosy seaside town about an hour outside of Amsterdam. I have just finished up a super stressful and soul destroying eight weeks at sea and I’m slowly starting to pick up the pieces of a crushed me and stick them back together with copious cups of tea, solitary walks and the company and kindness of fellow travellers who both comfortingly and uncomfortably know nothing about me. I am currently in the rinsing cycle, I am in cleanse mode. I have reached a point where I no longer recognise my reflection in the mirror, reached a point yet again where I gave too much of myself away and forgot about myself. A massive problem I have and a huge lesson that needs to be learnt because fuck it makes me so unhappy. It completely ruins me, and although it means I’m not able to enter into relationships or give much of myself to another person, at least it keeps me sane and floating on the surface instead of being sucked under, it stops me being smothered by the consuming care I can’t help but have for someone I love.

But here I am, I have been liberated from the tin can and I am free to roam. To read my books; I’m currently reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I read Americanah in my first week at sea and immediately ordered everything else she had ever written because she is so fantastically important and I have never read anything like her. She is a Nigerian novelist who focuses on the politics and racial tensions of a country blighted by civil war and so rarely explored in fiction. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as ‘the most prominent’ of a ‘procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. She somehow manages to be heartbreakingly romantic whilst avoiding clichés, dips heavily into the diplomacy of a complicated country without being boring or opinionated and wraps it all up in a blanket of interesting characters that make it an extremely enjoyable yet shocking read. She writes silky smooth and I’m all over it.

Talking of writing- I was browsing through the little notebook I cart around with me for random musings and incoherent mumblings and came across something I scribbled down last year which I thought I’d share:

‘How weird is it ‘coming home’. Going back. Walking past the place where you had your first job, where you worked for £4.90 an hour, clearing cups, the smell of fresh pastries in the morning reminding you of how far you’ve come. Life seems, at first, continuous. You go from one thing to the next, to the next- in that time you get older, your facial features change, somewhere in the midst you learn to like olives, you learn words like ‘nonchalant’ and ‘proclivities’ and ‘aplomb’ and you even find yourself using them in a sentence. You drink your coffee black now and you actually care about the quality of good bed linen. You recognise the adult humour in a kids film that you never noticed before, Shrek is so naughty, and you opted in for the pension at your somewhat steady job.

You walk past places where you came with previous relationships and you try to imagine being that person; when so much has happened, when entire lives have been lived and in such short time. You’ve seen the world, eaten its food, met its people climbed its mountains and swam in its seas- to return to a place where everyone is a stranger yet so familiar. You know everyone and no one, shop names chop and change but the building stays the same, the paths you used to walk along with your eyes closed dreaming of a life that couldn’t come quick enough. The future still completely unlived, unseen, like a secret, long awaited exhibit at the museum of the unknown. A thousand sighs, a million moments of longing for the world. Everything I’ve achieved, every lesson I’ve learnt, every life time I’ve lived I carry with me as I roam the streets of the town that propelled me forward. The sea into the solent like a subtle escape route, an unnoticed but ever present hint, a window into the person I have started to become and will continue to be.

I’m dancing amongst the ghosts of my past, between the walls of my presence, to the music of my future.’

Nothing reminds you that you are a valid person with substance quite like the shit you’ve rambled on about in the past ay?

Anyway, I’ve also been venturing around The Netherlands, my first time here, and other than be asked about fifteen times a day for directions as being 5,9 and blonde understandably makes me look a local, I have done a manner of Dutch things which can now be successfully ticked off my bucket list. Not a massive fan of The Dam I must admit, wondering through constant clouds of second hand weed smoke to the soundtrack of pissed up Brits on stag do’s isn’t really my forte so I was pleased to pack up and head off to Rotterdam. A nicer city, calmer and less intrusive; I sampled some fresh seafood from Markthal, very good, and some raw pickled herring, not so good. I found some gluten free Stroopwafels and ate an impressive 4 in one sitting with a cup of coffee whilst reading my book in Het Park before venturing to the Cube Houses where I took a few snaps and felt a bit sick for looking up at the weird angles for so long. I’ve been sandwiched between two very tall Dutch men in what I can only describe as a very tanned, blonde hug; lots of hair and very leggy. Like an exotic spider or an Afghan hound.

I hopped on the hostel shuttle and drove the 35km to my current location The Flying Pig, and was in my kini and splashing around in the waves before you could say poffertjes. I specifically chose this hostel because of its reputation for being super social and fun which is not a lie- karaoke till the early hours and home cooked seafood paella have made this girl a much happier one than she was last week. The healing power of people still amazes me and never fails to help stitch up the wounds of heartbreak or uncertainty. It’s so easy for me to hide away, to grab my book and pull up my duvet and shut out the world. I have completely switched from extroverted to completely introverted in th last few years, and as the planets most uncommunicative person I keep buckets and buckets of crap locked up inside me at all times and reveal very little to even those closest to me; A writer who has no words should be my slogan. Guilty of compensating with humour and avoiding topics, never admitting when I’m really struggling or unhappy about something or dealing with something. Constantly wading through a mist of my own torment but putting on a brave face for the world around me is a habit I cannot shake, so it’s nice to take some time out from that and distract myself with some laughter and refreshing conversation.

I took a day trip to Den Haag (The Hague) yesterday, which totally took me by surprise and impressed me with its old quarter, quirky bookshop and coffee shop scene and general vibe; highly recommend. Today is my last day before I head home and give my mum and granny a cuddle, but in true fashion I’m off again two days later for a quick venture round Budapest with my papa. With six countries under my belt for 2019 it’s a little bit of a slow one for me… but I should be adding some impressive ones to that list soon enough. Saving my pennies for a biggen at the end of the year… can you guess where I’m going?

C.J.R xox

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