Yesterday was my one year anniversary that I left London.
It really stunned me into humble silence when it occurred to me yesterday. It was also the 37th birthday of Christian Slater. You would have had to know me as a very odd 14 year old girl to understand the significance of this… but I’ll just say that I tend to form symbolic attachments to things, and at 14 when I was lonely and poetic and full of dreams, I created a quasi-imaginary friend in the shape of an average movie star who happened to move me in a film. 14 years later, outside a London theatre, I stood in front of Christian Slater, who had just performed in ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, and I contemplated telling him the degree to which my minor obsession defined me as a child, but I wisely giggled to myself, stayed silent, got a photo taken with him, and went home to my normal life.
The coincidences of my life, as many a blog entry in my past details, always seemed to suggest I was on the right path. They represented a beacon of assurance, an encouraging clue guiding me further along the winding path. So when my travel agent arranged my London departure and the start of my odyssey, it seemed movingly right that my departure should coincide with the date I actually used to celebrate as a child. It symbolised for me the culmination of all my youthful passion, belief in magic, in purpose and extraordinariness. I transposed all these values onto the imaginary shoulders of my make-believe Christian Slater… I was an odd child. For three years I celebrated this date as a teenager, until I turned 17, and discovered real-life boys.
But even as an adult, the values I celebrated then are still worth celebrating. It seemed so poetically right that my departure from my London home should start that day. I was setting off for unknown adventures, fulfilling a dream I had harboured most of my life: to explore, to discover, to take bold steps into strange worlds. It was horribly difficult to leave London, a step i still am not totally adjusted to, but the vision that drove me was real, and warranted.
My travels were not in the end everything I thought they would be. Oh, they were incredible, I saw glorious things and had wonderful adventures. But I don’t think I found what I was looking for. I am not entirely sure what it was I was looking for, but I just thought I would know it when I found it. I cut my travels short in the end, I just couldn’t bear roughing it in Africa any longer, I missed family, and friends, and a sense of home. Little did I realise that my homecoming would in many ways be harder than the travels I was enduring.
It’s been almost 6 months that I have been back now. And it’s been exactly one year I began this journey. What is it about anniversaries us as humans treasure so? I guess there is some primal urge in us to pay homage to symbols of meaning. And a year on, I pay homage to the fire that drove me from my comfortable life in London, and set me off by myself into the world, and to a new life on the other side of the planet. I didn’t find the Answers I thought I needed, but I did realise one important thing. On that bloody mountain in Africa, I learnt about acceptance, patience, and humility. I may not have perfectly manifested those values yet, but I am at least aware that it is what I need to do. So perhaps, a year on, 14 years on, these can now be the values I celebrate, and aspire to, every August 18th.