Last week I went on “holiday” for the first time in around three years. It was more like a little break—two days and two nights—but I slept away from my bed, my bedroom, the same view and feelings I’ve had for years. It was weird. My little head was confused. It couldn’t decide whether this meant I could relax completely or my anxiety should go into overdrive. I did a little of both.
Me and mum stayed in this little cottage on the edge of a wood, in a deep valley, in a little village, down a long winding road. The quiet was loud; I walked into the woods on a muddy morning and could only hear my footsteps. So I paused… nothing. Occasionally I would catch the sound of the stream, or birdsong. It was an unnatural feeling for me, a suburban girl. At home, true silence is a rare and precious thing. Usually I can hear cars and people and the like, and have to put on my headphones to block out all the noise. At the cottage, listening to music felt almost rude. I want to go back.
Our town is a small town, but it’s nothing like the country. People in the little villages in the English countryside are not like me and my family. They are kind of intimidating. They vote Conservative, and they can be hostile to outsiders. I suppose they feel just as odd and intimidated, though, when visiting cities and suburbs.
I used to think I was secretly a country person, having always felt a deep connection to nature. But I would miss the strangers and the art of the street, the hardened layer you develop as protection in a city that would be interpreted as rudeness in an isolated village. It’s not as cleansing as you might think it would be, being away from traffic, from the internet, from litter on the street. I suppose, as this was my first time away from home in so long, I was a little confused. But if I can go there, after so much time not being able to go anywhere at all, think of all the other places I can go to and form opinions about. The world is so great. You have to leave home sometimes to see how you adapt and cope, to see what parts of your personality come out. To know whether something you have with you at home is an illusion, or will follow you wherever you go. ♦