I want to explore the light


I think in general I have pretty good instincts but I am pretty crap at acting upon them.  I’ll give you a few examples:

I thought I should have left my job at the homeless hostel within about 6 months of starting there.  But I thought I would be letting people down or that it might not look good on my CV if I was only in a job for 6 months.

After a year with my ex boyfriend I thought that things weren’t working and that I should leave but various things had led me to think I wasn’t strong enough to cope on my own.  So I stayed and he made me miserable and I tried to make him happy but couldn’t.  I stayed for 2 years and for that whole time he was cheating on me.

The week before I moved here I went to visit my dad and told him that he needed to start looking after himself because I wasn’t coming back for 2 years and I didn’t want this visit to be the last time I saw my dad alive.  He thought I was being ridiculous but we still talked about things like wills and getting his important paperwork sorted out.  I don’t know why I said that to him in the glow of a summer afternoon’s sunshine but I just knew somehow that I needed to because my instincts told me he wasn’t well.  And two weeks later his doctor’s visit told him he had terminal cancer.  Four weeks and 3 days later he was dead and that visit had been the last time I saw my dad alive in any real sense.  Of course I saw him for the two days before he died in his hospice bed but by that time he was not really recognisable as my father – the person who told me that I should say ‘May I get down from the table?’ rather than ‘Can I get down from the table?’, the person who would push me on the swing and let me push off his tummy with both feet just to get higher, the person who kept a text message from me saying ‘I love penguins I do’ on his phone for 4 years because it made him giggle.

So I think I know somehow when I need to change things but mostly I’m too afraid to do so because I don’t want to let other people down or disappoint anyone.  But I’m 29 now.  I don’t want to be living to please others and keeping on to see if it will be alright when I know deep down somewhere that it won’t.  And so I’ve come to a decision.

Continue reading

Advertisements

13 Going on 30


Today is the 22nd, so it’s one month until my birthday and 13 months until my 30th.  Which I am looking forward to.  And which people think is very odd.  Apparently you shouldn’t look forward to turning 30, but I don’t see the point in dreading it.  It’s an inevitability and it’s not as if I can stop it.   I’ve never felt my age.  When I was 16 I wasn’t hanging out in the park drinking booze from a bottle hidden in the bag whilst sitting on the tyre swing over the bark flooring. (How was that bark meant to be good to fall on?  It got mouldy, it gave you splinters, it got stuck in your tights, it was rubbish, although granted better than falling on concrete.  Ok, I’ll just carry on now…) At 16 I was in at least 6 choirs including Brackley Jubilee Choir and Bicester Choral and Operatic Society and I brought the average age of singers down to about 40ish.  I went on holidays with my Mum’s Morris team, Owlswick Morris.  They were great fun and yes, I am that cool, I’m a Morris baby and proud of it.

When I was about 18 I did do something a teenager is meant to do, I went to Gatecrasher Summer Sound System – it was an all night club with various tents pitched on Turweston Aerodrome.  My Dad’s friend was running the security for the event and popped by to see if any of his kids would like to go, so my sister and I each said “Yes please!” and found ourselves being walking through the security office with 4 free passes.  I took my friends Ben, Chris and Liam and we had a great time.  The main things I remember are wearing combat trousers, a black vest top with a dragon on, my hair in two messy buns (yes, I was heavily influenced by the style of All Saints, I’m not going to apologise for that, it could have been worse) drinking Smirnoff Ice from plastic bottles, blue, pink and purple lights in the Happy Hardcore tent, water dripping on us from the ceiling from the condensation, a pretty rugby boy snogging me and walking home at 6 in the morning with the boys (probably mostly Ben and Liam) nicking the signs from the car park and throwing them in the hedge.  If you were one of those people in 2002 who couldn’t find their car that quiet Sunday morning then I apologise, but it was really funny at the time.

Continue reading

Edges are blurring all around


I’m back at school, I’m tired, I’ve got a cold coming on but otherwise things are good.

After my Christmas trip to Kenya I was quite drained, sunburnt and altogether dreading going back to work. Having a break of a month is not necessarily a good thing for me. (Yes, I know, boo hoo, poor me, I’m sure you would love a month off for Christmas – I’m not bemoaning that, I just recognise that I need more structure than all that time to my own devices.)

Continue reading

Begin the Begin


“Fresh starts: thanks to the calendar they happen every year —just set your watch to January, our reward for surviving the holiday season is a new year. Bringing on the great tradition of new years resolutions, put your past behind you and start over. It’s hard to resist the chance of a new beginning, a chance to put the problems of last year to bed.”

Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy [2.13]

It’s nearly the end of the year, very soon I will be by a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean and so many things have changed.  The Mayans thought the world would end today.  They were wrong but for me, this year, a good many things have ended.

The first, in January, was a three year relationship, I thought that we would get married (mainly because he said we would), I thought that we would have children and that I would live in a cottage somewhere in the North East (he said all that too…).  Last December I sat at my sister’s and then at my brother’s playing with their children and decided that enough was enough.  Enough making do with someone who couldn’t look after himself, enough hoping that if I was supportive and patient that things would pay off and we would be happy.  Enough of being afraid that I couldn’t cope on my own without him, despite him dragging me down gradually with him. So I told him that this was it and he agreed.

Continue reading

First things first


It’s December the first.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the school pool wearing factor 50.  It seems very wrong to be in an open air pool in November.  I watched my first live fashion show – the secondary students put it together to raise money for the school’s Saturday school which provides education for local orphans.  They put on a really good show, models, dancing and a bit of singing.

This morning I worked as promt for the dress rehearsal of the secondary production of West Side Story. This afternoon I’m heading to Tunza to celebrate a first birthday – they are roasting a pig on the beach.

A kite swooped in on me and stole some of my lunch on Thursday.  I’ve seen it happen before – circling ahead and then diving down onto the kids to grab a bit of food, all happening too fast to warn them.  It had never happened to me before, I didn’t realise it had happened until afterwards.  I felt a change in the air next to my head and spotted that some of my food had gone.  Some of the children nearby laughed, some said things like ‘sorry Miss!’ but I found it entertaining, if nothing else.  At least it didn’t scratch me, being allergic to plasters means things like that can be a pain to keep clean, especially in the dusty environment we have here.

There have been other firsts too, seeing or hearing something and reminding myself to call Dad to tell him.  Then remembering that I can’t.  In 12 days it will be my Grandmother’s 100th birthday – the first since she died and quite a significant one.  Christmas will be the first without being anywhere near home, the first without getting a scratch card from Dad, the first in Africa.  There are going to be lots of firsts, it’s almost as if my life is now divided in two – when Dad was around and after he died.  All the potential things that could happen from now – boyfriend, husband, child, job, home, tattoo…whatever. Who knows.  It’s going to be odd, some times sad, but it can’t be sad forever.  I know he’s not going to be here for the important things.  It’s the little things, the silly jokes, the random thoughts, the odd objects that I think to tell him about that keep catching me out.  And it’s not as if it’s heart wrenching or anything, there’s just a small intake of breath, a pause mid sentence or foot steps stop whilst I remember and then I carry on.  Which is how you manage to have more firsts.

It’s wrong to wish on space hardware…


We’ve had power cuts. Power cuts, as you will imagine, are a pain in the arse. We switch, in the evenings, to a noisy generator so we have to switch off water heaters, ovens and fridges. I’ve had to cook five pieces of chicken and all my bacon to save it from going off and bin a bag of squid that was beyond redemption. But, I’ve had a good reason to cook paella and tonight I’ve made some sort of spicy chicken and tomato stew that should be interesting for tomorrow’s lunch. (Have since eaten it and it was alright, nothing to write home about… oh, hang on…)
Power cuts have also meant that the lights on the neighbouring buildings have been out, so I’ve been out on our roof, watching the stars. With no light pollution getting in the way and balmy, cloud free nights there have been millions of stars on show. The Milky Way has carved its way through the sky above our flats; I’ve spotted Orion and Taurus. The rest of the constellations are alien to me at the moment, I keep looking for the North Star which has always been a constant, but it’s no longer in my line of sight. I’ll learn the new ones, but it does feel odd when gazing at the sky to not see the familiar shapes above you.
There have been shooting stars though. I saw 9 over two nights, with bats swooping past my head. They are strangely reassuring.
I’ve been out a bit; I went to a party at a house overlooking the lake. I’m sure it’s a spectacular view in the daytime, but is a bit lost on me at night time. Saturday, I spent the day pottering about the house and watching TV after buying fabric to have some dresses made. I’ve got three wrap around dresses on the way and I’ve picked up 5 pieces of African material – one, turquoise with a tree design, is hanging over my mosquito net, another is over the back of my sofa and I’m deciding what to do with the other two. They are a complete bargain, all my material, which combined is probably around 50m has cost me 60,000TSh which is roughly £24. Sunday, I re-coloured my hair, I’m back to a dark red/plum colour, although before long it will fade back to a light auburn, but that’s the price you pay for going blonde for 4 months I suppose. The evening was spent at Isamilo Lodge at a 63rd birthday party complete with a 60s quiz and 100 track playlist from the 60s-80s.
Monday, involved a trip to Tunza Beach for an hour’s yoga session as the sunset. I’ve not had a yoga class for about 12 years, so I’m quite out of practise, but it was very relaxing with the sound of the waves, the music and the gradually fading light. The sunsets over the lake are spectacular and as dusk starts to fall, flocks of birds fly across the yellow, pink and orange sky. I came home very aware of the stomach muscles that I have that have fallen into misuse.
The after school hours of Tuesday and Wednesday have involved parents’ evenings, my first as a teacher, and have been relatively pain free. A couple of parent’s haven’t liked what I’ve had to say, but they need to know the things their children need to work on.
We are having a fake Christmas at the weekend: Saturday is our first roof party and I have a marvellous playlist ready on the iPod, Sunday we have a Christmas dinner to cook. I’ve got my stocking and Christmas decorations out ready and will be putting the fairy lights on the steps to the roof. We will make some fresh fruit juice for cocktails, complete with straws with paper fruit and mini umbrellas.
I’m still not fully settled back. On Sunday afternoon they buried my Dad and Gaggy’s ashes and I’ve not really heard from people how it went. I tried texting but couldn’t get through. I didn’t feel right being here. I keep thinking of the part in ‘Little Women’ (yes, back to that again) where Jo says that she loves her home but is so fretful that she can’t stand to be there. I felt like that in England, I’m feeling like that in Tanzania. But not always. The key must be to re-programme myself to stop thinking of how much things cost in pounds, what time it is in England, get back into the swing of work, plan how I’m going to spend my weekends and my Christmas holiday that starts in just over a fortnight… Try and sleep. Try and learn the new stars over my head. Try and let my old life go a bit more because I’m not going back there for a while.

I don’t want to change the world, I’m not looking for an new England…

Travelling in time


I’ve come to my grandmother’s house to clean up before my aunt gets here tomorrow; I pressed play on my ipod – there’s 7144 tracks ont here at the moment (I really should get some more) and the first that came up was this song by Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts .  Jamie is the little brother of Kathryn Roberts that I linked to earlier in this blog, talented family.

Travelling in Time:

I wandered off today, back to the house we lived in then, the sound of voices play, the children are young 5, 8 and 10.

The rooms seem darker to me, but everyone else says they can see fine, shapes are all I can see, your voice calls me back to present day time.

It seemed to fit with what I’m doing.  I’m picking up some cds I loaned to Dad, pinching back the DVD The West that I gave him, and getting rid of the mess I made staying here last week.  It doesn’t seem fair for my aunt to come here to come to say goodbye to her brother and mother with some of my washing up still here.

It’s a different house now.  It has been in our family for 80 years or so – I think my great-grandmother lived here, my great-uncle, great-aunt, my grandmother moved here after her husband died 38 years ago, my dad moved in 9 years ago after he and mum split up.  The house will be sold now, maybe it will stay with another family for as long, but more likely someone will buy it and  build something in the garden, sell it for much more.  I don’t want to stay here now, it was fine when I was staying to visit dad, my cat was here, but now the cat has gone to live with my oldest brother and his family, so nothing living is here now.  It still has its familiar books and pictures, models that dad made, plates, pencils that went towards Gaggy’s collection.

I know that this seems morbid or melancholic, but I don’t think it is really.  People are what makes something or somewhere make you feel like you belong.  I’ve been very lucky, I’ve lived with 18 people in the last 9 years and I’ve felt at home nearly everywhere I’ve been.  I’ve had a good week – I’ve been singing with my old choir, I’ve sat in on some lessons at my old school to see the sorts of things I should be doing when I get back to Tanzania, I’ve bumped into people I’ve not seen for years.  Although I can’t picture myself ever living permanently in Northamptonshire or even in England for quite a while, it’s good to know I can fit back in relatively easily.  And I know I’ll fit back in Tanzania when I go back there.

It’s been interesting watching people since I’ve been back because I’m the only one on my own – in some respects that gives me a fair bit of freedom because I can decide what I want to do without having to co-ordinate plans with someone else, or think about what they want to do.  It’s good to be a bit selfish sometimes.  But it’s also good to see people being able to support each other, being happy, doing silly little things together, I do miss that a bit but for now, it’s just me on my own and it’s time for that.  I’ve completely lost my train of thought now and should probably get back to cleaning things up…

Burt Bacharach and Hal David put it well, Ella Fitzgerald sings it best

(Although, I don’t think you have to have a man around to make your house a home, but that’s not the point of the song.)