Whoah! A whole lot has changed since my last post and I think this is part of the reason why there has been such a huge gap between then and now (another reason being that I didn’t have a computer and my severe lack of tech knowledge delayed the process of actually getting one.) Along with purchasing a new laptop, I have also moved to Edinburgh, as of yesterday secured a part time job, indulged a little in freshers week (I’m sorry Liver) and before this, I went on my trip to the states. Between all the flat hunting, Uni preparations and everything else I have been a neglectful blogger and for that, I apologise. However from the point I decided to take my trip to where I am at now: sitting in my flat in Edinburgh, it’s safe to say I have learned some valuable lessons so that’s what I want to focus on in this post and maybe you can relate to at least one of my musings.
I have never had a problem with travelling by myself: getting on a plane and the whole process prior to that has never really phased me but when I reach my destination I am almost always surrounded by someone I know very well whether that be one of my best friends or a boyfriend. Apart from my first summer at camp, I have known who I would be spending the majority of my adventures with. When I took the leap to go to China, I was always comforted by the fact that I had Ali and Duncan with me so among all the hustle and bustle of that crazy country, they were a constant and I knew that I had more than myself to rely on when the going got tough, which it did, a lot. I also also made two trips to South Africa to visit Ali and many people asked me about safety issues and such but for me: I never felt threatened (apart from this one time a lion* bit me) and there wasn’t any kind of uneasiness because again, I had someone with me at all times. My trips to the states have either meant going to a place I quickly found to be my summer home, filled with people I knew inside and out or excursions to visit a boyfriend. When I came to this realisation, I must say I felt like a bit of a fraud. I know that I have challenged myself many times and accomplished things I didn’t think were possible but have I tested my true potential? When push comes to shove would I have done all the things I have done or gone to the places I have been if I hadn’t quite literally had someone holding my hand through out?
When I went to the states this summer I went as a single girl visiting my summer camp friends and due to my tight time schedule and the fact that they had jobs and other essential things going on, I had to figure out what I was going to do in the meantime. The second half of my trip was spent in New York City and I cannot explain the feeling I have every time I am there. There is a buzz that you can physically feel and I never quite know what might happen while I’m there. One Monday morning, I found myself alone in Manhattan with the day ahead of me and hundreds of possibilities of how to spend it. At first I felt pretty anxious, I had a fear I was going to get lost if I strayed too far from my base which at that point was an apartment belonging to my dear friend Caroline’s cousin, who had kindly let me crash there even after she had to returned to DC. I had a phone which would only work in WiFi so I felt at a technological disadvantage and wondered if I should just head straight over to the Air BnB I had booked for that night. Then I got the heck over myself and decided that this was the day I could do whatever I wanted, see things that I hadn’t yet seen on previous trips with groups who were either too hungover to move or held lengthy debates on what we should be doing rather than actually doing it. So I popped on a crop top and strolled down the street(I have this thing about crop tops…p.s I also wore trousers). I started the day off with a poppy seed bagel filled to burst with sun-dried tomato ‘shmear’ (cream cheese, I know…it’s a gross word for it.) which I took to Central park and ate while I people watched the crap out of everyone. I loved seeing seeing all the different types of park goers who were wandering around, some in a very casual and relaxed manner or some who were marching, coffee in hand to whatever meeting they were about to sit through. There was also another group of people – The summer clubs that were entertaining teeny tiny kids of about 4 and 5 years old in the park and shepherding them around to make sure that everyone was present and accounted for. I smiled as I watched several flustered looking 21 year old(ish) staff members count and then recount the little tykes while making sure everyone was holding hands and staying within their nearly constructed formations. I couldn’t help but feel compassion for these modern day child wranglers. This one time at summer camp, I had to carry out similar duties during my supervision of 17 fifteen year olds but in the much more manic and larger setting of Disney World, Florida. Please don’t feel sorry for me though, did I mention part of my job was to go to Disney World?
My alfresco breakfast was followed by a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA for time saving and hipster purposes). However as this was New York city, the line for the actual exhibitions was mammoth and I didn’t want to waste this glorious day of freedom getting frustrated in a que so I decided to head over to the design store which was essentially the Museum’s gift shop. I was overwhelmed by the number of books, prints and other nick nacks that caught my eye. I spent about 2 hours flicking through books on photography, film culture and then something caught my eye,
I was immediately curious and proceeded to scan threw a few pages in the book to get a better idea of what exactly I was dealing with. I spent another 20 minutes or so perusing through the other books on the shelves but Mr Thwaites had got me and I took him to the checkout to seal the deal. I spent the next couple of hours wandering along 5th avenue and while knowing that I couldn’t afford a pair of socks in any of the designer stores I walked past, I felt pretty content knowing that I actually didn’t mind. Then, out of the blue, I came across St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s dramatic Gothic architecture among a sea of sky scrapers and modern living is what pulled me inside.
What I found interesting was that even though it is a Roman Catholic church, there were people of many different religions visiting the cathedral. While my cynical side initially thought that this place had become more of a tourist attraction than a genuine place of worship, it was pretty much quashed when I saw how many people were actually praying and the overall sense of respect that people seemed to convey when I was walking around. The fact I was alone when I went was something I really enjoyed, it allowed me to focus completely on my own thoughts and connection to religion and potentially, God. Now I don’t tend to identify myself as following a particular faith but I like to think I am open minded when it comes to that particular subject. Overall St Patrick’s Cathedral is definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in Manhattan even if it’s just to take yourself away from the hustle and bustle and have time to reflect on whatever you might need to or simply to check out it’s insane stain glass windows.
By this point, I had done a lot of walking around and I decided that I deserved a little rest and a well earned glass of wine.There is something strangely liberating about sitting at a table in a restaurant alone. I think my generation and younger tend to jump to the response of ‘Oh what a shame’ and ‘I’m sure they’re lonely’ but during those times and especially on my New York adventure, I felt empowered. I felt like I didn’t need anyone to entertain me or fill the silence with. I was on my own schedule doing exactly what I wanted to do and I loved it. Since my trip, I have had a lot more of those days, whether that was during my flat search in Edinburgh or combing the cities’ streets in a bid to find a job. Don’t get me wrong I had an amazing time reconnecting with old friends and the majority of my trip was spent doing exactly that but on those couple of days when I had to figure it out for myself, I loved it.
This brings me back to The Goat Man and how I identified with this truly interesting book. I decided that there was no better time to delve into it than when I was flying back from New York to Edinburgh. An adorable 7 year old boy named Stanley was sitting across the aisle from me and when I took a break from reading, he asked me ‘How is Goat Man? to which I responded ‘Oh well he is a little bit fed of being a human and all the stuff that humans have to worry about so he has decided that he wants to become a goat and live how they do.’ Stanley responded with ‘Oh, that’s cool’. I agreed and found myself having the same reaction to much of what designer Thomas Thwaites puts forward through out the book. It made me think of my own life, my concerns about finding a job after my Masters, having enough money while I study, losing the weight I had most certainly gained during my trip and of course the whole not dying alone thing. What if we could just wipe all of that away and roam around the hills, just eating as we go and just making sure nothing eats us? That’s what Thomas Thwaites attempts to do in his book and if you get the chance, I sincerely urge you to read it and find out what he discovers about not only himself, but human beings as a whole, along the way.
So here I am, a human not a goat and at a point in my life where I find myself single and dependent wholly on myself and I can honestly say I feel pretty pumped about it and ready to take on new challenges. However that’s not to say I will be making my own attempts to turn myself into a farm yard animal, yet. There is a massive difference between being alone and being lonely and I think being able to recognise that is pivotal. While I sometimes get miffed I don’t always have someone to take advantage of my 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Tuesday/Wednesday with, I know I’m ready to fly solo for a while.
So, take a leap of faith on yourself because sometimes you’ll find, you are all the company you need.
Feautured photo Credit: Duncan Errington
*When Ali and I visited a lion park in South Africa we had the chance to go into the enclosure with 4 or 5 lion cubs. They were a few months old and slightly smaller than adult labradors. One cub took a fancy to me and decided to jump on my leg and bite me around my knee. He probably just thought we could be mates but I told him it just wasn’t feasible (after I almost shit my pants and ran out of the enclosure.)
If you fancy checking out ‘The Goat Man: How I took a Holiday from being Human’ and I think you should, then just follow this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/GoatMan-Took-Holiday-Being-Human/dp/1616894059