I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling of wanderlust. Particularly in this day and age where we are brought up to believe that anything is possible, we feel it’s our God-given right and obligation to follow our dreams and live the most fun-loving, satisfying life we can. And too right – no one’s going to hand you happiness on a plate, you need to get out there and find it, to discover what that word even means to you, because it’s not the same for everyone.
There are many things I wanted to achieve in my 20s and many places I wanted to go. In 2013 I moved to Cheltenham which is a 45 minute trip down the M5 from my hometown, i.e. just far enough that I could feel totally independent and just close enough that I could always drop back home for a Sunday roast. A year on from my university degree and it felt like life was really beginning. I had chosen not to go down the path of all-out travelling, but figured I could still take trips to those dreamed-of destinations while building a life in Cheltenham. Good plan all round.
By the end of 2014, my partner and I found ourselves unexpectedly expecting. As luck would have it, we’d just bought a new house a few months before so thankfully we were in a stable position – admittedly things could have been a lot worse. But while I tried to focus on all the positives of the situation, I desperately struggled to come to terms with the realities of motherhood. Like so many women (as I’ve now come to realise) I raged at the limitations it incurred. My child occupied every minute of my day and I no longer had the time to do anything that was mine. Adios dreams!
I could say a lot more on the subject, but for now let me say that I slowly worked things out in my head. I learnt to accept that life doesn’t always go to plan, but sometimes you’ll look back and realise that it actually turned out pretty great after it all went completely tits up. In many ways a child makes you see things anew and its undeniably an incredible feeling to watch them make sense of the world for the first time.
For now, (for financial reasons, boringly) the formerly dreamt of, big adventures are not on the cards. One day we will be able to share these excursions with our little one and teach him the fundamentals of the real world – while learning some ourselves, no doubt. But in the meantime I made a vow to myself – I will not bow down to boredom and stagnation. It is not in my nature to be confined to children’s television and the nearest playground. I will continue being me. I will take for myself a hilltop view from every landscape, wet shoes from every stream and a pint of beer from every pub within reach of the shire. I conscientiously hand-picked this place above all others to make a life in and I trust my judgement enough to know that I can find happiness right here.
I think when people travel, the reason behind it is often to find meaning, to learn about people, places, traditions; to find beauty in many shapes and forms. It’s a wonderful feeling jetting off to a distant shore to find these things, in having the opportunity to walk in someone’s shoes and taste their climate for a week, month or year. But lets not forget that there is a wealth of history right beneath our feet and thriving landscapes to feast our eyes on right here in the UK. This place made me and is an enormous part of me. I need to do it justice.