Monday, 30 November 2009

No place like it

What is home?

A roof and walls?

A place?

A feeling?

A person?

A Family? One you come from or have created?

Perhaps it is the intersection of these things, all or some at any time. Somewhere that is safe, and holds moments of joy, and sadness and the ordinary.

I came back tonight to a flat that contains my things, my work, my life It was cold. It is where I live. I will light candles, defrost lentil soup and drink red wine, and be glad that my sister picked me up from the airport and that Mum called to say 'Hi'.

I will pretend, for now, that this is home.

Time to check in

I step outside for a cigarette, for one reason only. To stand awhile on French soil.

The truth is, I could be anywhere.

The airport is a concrete sprawl of car parks, numbered sections and suitcases wheeling past. I know I'm back in Europe only because the skies are grey and it is cold.

I know I am not at home, because there it would be dark at 4pm.

I know I am not in Scotland, because the road signs are for Paris.

I am in transit, in more ways than one. I return inside to drink machine made coffee and browse perfume counters before joining another queue.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Walk beside me

Some of you will be wondering how I've fared holidaying with an ex. I had wondered too.

Despite all the ups and downs of an adventure that didn't work out as planned, thanks to mechanics, it's been great in many ways.

I feel rather like I've rediscovered a friend. I've remembered why I liked him in the first instance.

We have been in each other's company almost 24/7 for ten days. Depsite some frustrations at our situation spilling over in minor moments, there are very few people whose company I could so easily share without having needed more space by now.

We have had conversations and not others, and ticked along with a little understanding and patience, with moments of much good humour. In his company, I can relax. I am me, and he is he. I hope.

Our silences are comfortable and safe.

I had worried that we may fight, or be frustrated by history. Instead, I have learned to cede control and trust him (I have also learned that I am bad at crossing roads in foreign countries!).

It is uncertain if people can ever fundamentally change too much of who they are (and with this in mind I wondered if demons of my past would reappear), but I am sure that we can use what tools we have differently. Maybe my hard work over the past year or so has bourne fruit after all and I have learned a little a least.

Once I had him on a pedastel. Now I hold him in regard, and as an equal.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

The first evening we resigned oursleves to a weekend of waiting for the van and headed out into the medina and its rambling narrow dark streets. It can be a pretty intimidating place and feels like living in a maze. There are no landmarks to guide the way.

We started to wander home to discover the gates of the souks had been closed for the night, and blocked our way back. We got lost. Not hopelessly, but it felt like it the time. We stood out as two releatively wealthy Westeners amongst the beggars, dealers and theives.

Young men will offer you directions, for money, before leading tourists on a wild goose chase and abandoning them. We needed to choose carefully who to ask for help.

In the grottiest of vennels we stopped by the stall of an elderly vegetable seller. We asked where we were. He didn't understand. We tried again in French, a commonly spoken second language here, but with no joy.
Andy called our Riad. Merwan, our host, asked him to pass the phone to the Morrocan. The vegetable seller looked at the mobile being offered to him as if it were a piece of moon dust or some other strange thing. He nervously said 'hello' a few of times before hearing a familiar language coming back to him through this device. A conversation began. Location was established. We were going to be ok.

The man who had helped was old and weather beaten. The grapes, carrots, tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes on his stall looked much the same. We could be in any century. He had long robes, a small cap under which were bright dark eyes and a fascinated smile. He was a gentleman.

He pullled across a tatty plastic crate and a sack to cover it so that I could sit.

He trusted us, the strangers with the weird speaking machine, and treated us with kindness. I was grateful.

Marooned in Marrakech

I guess this will be the first of a string of ramblings from Morcco. Courtesy of a series of other people's inefficiencies we're stuck in Marrakech when I should have reached Spain and my flight home today. Lucy, the beautiful 1974 VW camper van, is still in the garage.

It's been an unexpected week in this city of contrasts, and in many ways blessed, although a little frustraing. Worse for my companion than me. I wish I could fix it but I can only sit back and offer what small words of comfort I can and distract as much as possible.

I have now rescued my laptop from the van. Not writitng has made me realise the place it has in my life and the space I need to let things out and away.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Travel - places and people

On Thursday I'm off to Morocco to join a friend who's travelling there in his 1974 VW camper van. We'll hang out in Marrakesh for a few days then head north to Spain. What a lovely adventure.

I'm very much looking forward to visiting this amazing country again, and spending time with someone whose company, daftness and views of the world I enjoy.

Some of my friends think I'm crazy for taking the trip. Why?

He is an ex boyfriend.

Not only is he an ex, but he is an ex who hurt me quite badly because of the sudden way our relationship ended.

Some people think I shouldn't be his friend because of our past. But, why give up on someone who brings something to your life? I'm being selfish, not generous. He is someone who gets my inner geek. He makes me laugh. He makes me think. Our friendship has been hard won. It has required unearthing of unresolved arguments, and reshaping how we relate to each other.

Others are more understanding of my attitude.

Others blame the fact that he is a widower for the demise of our relationship. Don't they realise that neither he or I are perfect? No matter what our pasts contain. We failed to communicate well enough and to work at making it work. The timing was bad. Blame is pointless. It happened. Sad.

I would be mad to reject someone from my life because a particular aspect of it didn't work out. I wouldn't be going on an adventure if I had.

As one of only three 'real' people who know about my scribblings, he will read this. And that' s ok. Or maybe I am crazy after all....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A little bit of fun and a pleasant surprise

'Always A Mom' Thank you for this award. I very much appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read, and for thinking of me when passing on this lovely addition.

So, for a more light-hearted post than usual....

A few simple rules apply to the recipients of this award.

1.Thank the person who gave you the award.
2.Copy the Award.
3.Post it in your blog.
4. Tell Us 7 things that your readers don't know.
5. Link 7 new bloggers as recipients.
6. Notify winners of award with comment on their blog.
7. Keep being Awesome.

Some things you don't know about me;

1.I very often talk too much, and say too little

2.When I was a kid, I was obsessed by Sherlock Holmes, and had a particular love of the old black and white films of the books starring Basil Rathbone

3.I sleep with my toes crossed and interlinked....don't ask me how!

4.If I could retrain and do anything else, I would like to reupholster and restore furniture

5.I love Russian art and literature, particularly from the late 19th and early 20th century

6.I had to have a nose job three years ago, a year after someone opened a shop door into my face. My nose no longer has the hump I was born with so i'm retrospectively grateful to the drunk student who caused the damage

7.It is likely that I will develop breast cancer at some point in my life, and lose one of two parts of my body I actually like. The other is my hands. Funny that both things come in pairs.
Anyway I shall ponder who to pass this on to. In the meantime, I am grateful that some people take the time to read what I scribble. I am surpised that my blog has now been read in eight countries, on five continents but I only have four followers - how does that figure? I know who some of you are, as you've chosen to follow. I would love it if others leave a comment, follow or just say 'hello'. Thanks again for reading and sharing, and allowing me to share in your thoughts - joyous, insightful, dark or otherwise.

Always a Mom can be found at

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Onwards and upwards

It's hard to be positive and look forwards when so many moments that could have been something, and I let become nothing, have passed by. One day I will learn to accept kindess and love. I understand why I don't, mostly, partly.

I don't know how to fix it though

When difficult things happen I find myslf in a mire of old memories and other occasions were I did the wrong thing because I didn't, couldn't believe in myself or let myself trust. I don't trust myself to do the thing that is best for me. I end up in a bog.

I must climb out and find what I need. I just can't always remember what that is. For now I will cling to the glimpses of better.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Too many questions

Two weeks ago I left the pub after one drink, and my sister's boyfriend behaving like a spoilt child. I haven't been back since.

It's Friday night and I'm home alone after an exhausting couple of weeks. Glass of red wine, too much to eat, cigarettes, junk TV and some domestic pottering.

Despite phone calls from three of my usual Friday evening companions, I just don't want to go out. I've made lame excuses. I can't figure out if I'm tired or grumpy or worse. I worry when I get into this hiding mode that I'm on the verge of wanting to stay away and wallowing. Is my response my response to the idiot boyfriend reasonable or rational? Am I playing out one of those old stories of my child hood again and not recognising it?

I can't find the root of this. I wanted those phone calls, and still rejected my friends. I wanted to know they cared, and miss me, and still I am here not there. Why?

The longer I leave it before I return to their company, the harder it will be to go back to the fold without creating something of nothing. It wasn't nothing though. It mattered to me. It just doesn't matter to them. I am making the boys uncomfortable by my absence. If I were there it wouldn't be an issue, by not being I am shining a spotlight on an argument so far unresolved and making them complicit.

Am I punishing them for not standing up for me when I needed it? Would I have accepted help if they had? Probably not. The reality is, I am the only loser.

How do I regain myself and let it go?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Changing days

It is 10am and the first proper frost is still clinging to the trees, grass and cars outside. The sky is hazy and bright, and the sun is sitting below the tops of the trees, each of them looks like a silhouette. The last of the yellow leaves are floating free.

Winter is coming and I will plan cosy nights with friends round my table. Red wine and filling, comforting  food will be consumed while we laugh and debate the ways of the world. Come Hogmanay, I will welcome friends, family and neighbours with champagne and whisky to see in another year.

Will my home be first footed by a tall, dark man carrying cake or coal or a coin to bring us all a prosperous year? We will raise a dram and celebrate.

Still I wonder where I will sleep when the glasses are empty and the taxis have gone.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Perhaps there are enough people on the planet already

I spent a lovely afternoon with around twenty friends and their kids at the 30th birthday lunch of a great friend. I love these people and I'm so pleased seeing them with husbands, partners, children, pregnant bellies - settled and happy. I was one of only two single people there. It's a club I'm not part of.

Somehow, somewhere as our lives have progressed they've succeeded in finding the people who they want to build their futures with. I haven't. I'm not unhappy but it's a strange place to be in. Marriage and kids are rites of passage and experiences I know nothing about. I can only look on from the sidelines and share glimpses of the joy their children bring to them.

Feeling a friend's tummy as her growing baby kicks is an amazing thing.

I do wonder if I want kids of my own. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to answer that. I did want a family. Do I now? I don't know.

I have a friend who will seek out a sperm donor if she hasn't found a partner by a given age. I don't understand the strength of her longing for motherhood.

If it's something I do, it will only be as part of a committed relationship. If it doesn't happen for me, then that's ok too. There are other ways of having a wonderful life. However, I do need to think about how much it matters (or doesn't) to me.

I am 34. In a few short years I may not have the choice. Time flies when you're busy doing other things.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Words from the wise

Each week I read the e-bulletin of a man I greatly admire. He is an activist in the social enterprise movement who shares not only news of the sector but his own reflections on life as he ages. He is now is his late sixties, perhaps a little older, I think. He is well read and wise. He also posts excerpts of others people's writing. This week he shared something that may seem a little cheesy to some, but struck a chord with me.

I'm sharing it here for someone in particular (you know who you are!), but instead of sending it by email I thought i'd post it here as others might enjoy it also.

The Zen Master – Shunryn Suzuki (1905-1971) said ‘‘there is no set path for us. Moment after moment we have to find our own way. Some idea of perfection set by someone else is not the true way for us. Each of us must make our own way – and when we do, that will express the universal way. This is the mystery. When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything. The search for our essential self is life’s mission and only resting place.”