I’ve run away. Perhaps due to the fact that I never even attempted it as a child and feel that I’ve somehow been missing out on something, yesterday i gathered my best mate, my dog and a few spare pairs of pants, got in the car and headed north from London.
My book, Can I Speak To Someone In Charge is coming out this week. I’ve been working on it for two years, it is everything to me, my heart and my soul laid bare for the world to see and after what seems like forever, and no time at all, it’s July and publication is imminent. As part of the madness i have been lucky enough to see my face in places that i never thought i would see it: namely on the front page of The Times newspaper yesterday. If i believed it to be real i think i’d be in shock, as it stands i’m in denial. There’s no way that yesterday was real.
I’m not really running away. In that, i am coming back. And my phone is on and i did get it OK’d with my publishers before i left. I haven’t done a vanishing act, i’ll never be that cool or reckless. But i have run. And i am away. Because i think if i had done another day in my flat on my own, hanging in suspense, ominously twiddling my thumbs to pass the time of the calm before the storm, i think i would have gone insane. I’m so busy at the moment but i’m also at a loss for knowing what i should be doing with my time. I can’t write. I can’t really sleep. I can’t focus on things properly, constantly panicking that i should be doing something, anything, else.
There’s no guidebook for this process and no instruction manual. Part of me wants to carry on as normal but the rest of me is left wondering what the hell normal was in the first place. This isn’t helped by the fact that Alex has gone away this week. He’s had to go to LA for a couple of weeks with work and, because life isn’t fair, will be missing the launch. We’ve lived together for nearly four years and, as much as it saddens me to hear any woman admitting to needing a man, i’m not ashamed to admit that i find being apart from him difficult. Not least of all because the rest of my life is so NOT normal at the moment, not having him there to talk to in the evenings is strange as anything.
So i had to get out of the flat. Out of my own head really, away from the feeling of expectation that surrounded me at home. I’d wake up in the morning, get ready at lightening speed, wolf down my breakfast, take Bua out for a walk, make my way into my home office all before 9am. I’d sit down, open my laptop and then find myself wondering what the bloody hell i was meant to be doing. There’s plenty to do: when you run your own blog and are totally in charge of your own workload and income there is ALWAYS plenty to do, but my brain, my pesky brain, it hasn’t let me focus on anything that isn’t the ticking time bomb.
Now i am sitting beside the sea. i’m very very lucky that my mum has a house in the Isle of Man, the place that she is from and grew up. I grew up here too really. As a child we would spend a lot of time here visiting my grannie and in more recent years, since she died, we have taken every opportunity (school holiday at first and weekends now) to visit this wonderful place. I’ve had every birthday of my life out here, i’ve made some of my best memories here, i’m so happy here. It’s like nowhere else on earth, it’s always windy, always beautiful, both calm and wild, it’s home to me and I love it. So when i realised that i had three days before my next London based commitment and that my mum was out here on her own, i seized the opportunity for fresh air and booked the next ferry. It’s not even been 24 hours and already i feel like a new person. I can feel the knot in my stomach easing with every second that passes, a knot that i had started to think would never not be there.
I know that this is the best time of my life. That i will look back at now so fondly, that i must drink it all in and be so careful not to miss a moment. But i am also so aware that i have been letting the world get on top of me. That the pressure i was putting on myself, well, the pressure in general, was going to get too much if i didn’t do something about it. And i didn’t want to burn out. It would have been all too easy to burn out. It can happen when you’re not really looking.
You wake up every day and go to work and do your job and eat your lunch and travel home and cook some dinner and watch Love Island and call your mum and do your teeth and go to bed on Monday and then before you know it it’s seven months later and the routine hasn’t changed. Other than your television choices of course, because if Love Island went on for seven months of the year i think they would need to rename the ‘villa’ the ‘zoo’ and it would all be a bit weird. You’re busy, all of the time. Even when you’re not busy, you’re so busy; that’s life these days. Because if you’re not busy then you should be and that in itself can be something that you can busy yourself worrying about with no trouble at all. And that is a hole of self-perpetuating hell that you need to get out of, even if just for a moment. Which is why i would suggest that you run away. Even if only for a minute. Even if it is just to the end of your garden.
This is the best time of my life and i don’t want anyone to think even for a minute that i am not incredibly grateful for every single minute of it. I am, i really, truly am. I’m more grateful than you will ever know. But I needed five minutes, literally just five, to gather my thoughts and work out what to do with myself. I still don’t know, i don’t think i will ever know, I don’t think anyone ever does. But thanks to a fabulously spontaneous decision on Friday i know that i will return to London on Tuesday with the enthusiasm that this time of my life deserves.