The first few weeks after I arrived on the cattle station I had a whole plan, with free afternoons and literally nowhere to go, I was going to be proactive. For once I had no social distractions, no friends to go play stupid games or chill on beaches with and no bars or parties where I could get sidelined by drinking. And for a while this plan went ok, you may have noticed there were a couple of updates on here. I started working on a writing project I had been mulling over forever. I even started doing the Joe Wicks PE class everyday, thinking now was the time I could get fit. I would leave the outback tanned as fuck, skinny (well maybe not skinny but more toned and able to go for a run again without the need to stop and be sick!) and with a heap of writing done.
But oh so gradually this enthusiasm started to fade away.
A couple of days ago I read an article, I can’t remember the exact science (I’ve never been an exact science kind of girl) but it explained that long and sustained periods of stress like we are in now, mean that a certain type of chemical is constantly in our body. In short bursts it’s good for us, but constantly there it makes us foggy and lose focus. It makes sense, weirdly I’ve discovered that I am at my best and most motivated when I am busy. The time I was writing the most was my last hectic summer in London when I was working 6 days a week, 10 or 12 hour days and then partying till the early hours of the morning before doing it all again the next day. I thrive off adrenaline, and this static environment I find myself in had sapped up all my motivation and wrung my emotions out. All I wanted to do after finishing work each morning was to curl up in bed and read or watch films.
Something about the world turning upside down and being so very far away from home as it was happening, and my mind had started playing tricks on me. I was crying at just about anything. (Crying over YouTube videos is completely normal behaviour usually when I’m on my period not so normal for the entire month.) My dreams constantly starred people from my past. Old familiar faces that, whilst every so often I’ll get an odd spurt of missing, I now see every night. The kindest boy I ever knew, from my first New Zealand family has a recurring role in my nightly dreams, alongside childhood friends and of course my much missed mum. Waking up each morning without any of them truly being here invokes a weird kind of loneliness, and a strong nostalgia for the past. I start most of my days trying to shake this unnerving feeling, and mooching around work still half in a dream.
In the mornings I have found myself selecting soundtracks to every musical I’ve ever seen, or old favourite albums to listen to as I go about my work. The Kaiser Chiefs ‘Employment’ album features daily, taking me straight back to my year 9 Paris trip. When me and my three best friends somehow all swindled a place on the trip and hyped on sugar pranced around the city dressed in gypsy skirts (the top fashion item of the summer), eating crepes and fancying boys whose full names I can’t even remember. I haven’t thought about that summer for so long but now I miss it and I miss that innocence and above all I miss my friends.
Like reverting back to old and much loved music, I’ve also guiltily ignored the long list of ‘to be read’ books in favour of re-reading old classics. I’ve easily sunk back into the comforting world of Harry Potter, greeting the characters like old friends. Along side classics which I borrowed from my mum’s bookshelves as a teenager, like Wuthering Heights and Charles Dickens eagerly consuming them all at breakneck speed.
And then of course there’s Disney + (there could not have been a more perfectly timed launch of a streaming service.) And I have spent far too many of my afternoons here curled up with an old favourite, reliving the romances and adventures that I so longed for as a little girl. Singing along to the joyful songs that are permanently printed on my brain, and blocking out reality with an escape to Disney’s world of dreams and magic. Perhaps, some desperate part of my brain is trying to make up for the unexpected halt to my own adventures, and my current complete lack of romance, by living through these childhood films. Mostly though I’ve found myself watching the 2018 film ‘Christopher Robin’ with an almost obsessive frequency, and weeping every time. This could in part be down to the pure Englishness, seeing something as familiar as grey and rainy London is overwhelmingly comforting. But really it’s for the characters. The inhabitants of the one hundred acre wood have been my friends for as long as I can remember. When we were very young my sister got a toy Eeyore for Christmas and I was so wildly jealous that my gran had to buy me my own. Eeyore has been my favourite Disney character all my life. With Roo following up very close behind, after purchasing my Roo on a cotton candy high at Disney World Orlando, and him and my raggedy Eeyore have been on every adventure with me ever since. There is something so loveable about Eeyore’s grumpiness and Roo’s childish enthusiasm, about Piglets’s fearfulness and Pooh’s silliness. Returning to these characters is like being enveloped in a warm hug. Like all Winnie the Pooh stories, it is simple and silly but it’s full of joy and watching it is probably the best kind of cheering up I could have asked for. Each time it reminds me that even the smallest thing can be the biggest adventure. The ordinary can become extraordinary. And happiness can be found in the smallest and most mundane of moments.
Rationally all of this makes sense. I suppose being in a new environment so entirely different from what I know and without friends or family, when everything in the world is just a little bit wrong right now, that longing for the old and familiar is inevitable. That the things which I’ve loved so much, but put to the back of my mind, have come to the forefront dusting off the cobwebs and become such integral parts of keeping me sane.
And I guess this is ok. It’s ok to not be productive. It’s ok to say my head is flipping just as much as the world is right now. And it is definitely 100% ok to take comfort in whatever makes you happy be that Disney films, old music, childhood books, or even bread making if that’s your thing! So it may be sunny outside and there may be 100 things I could be doing but honestly, you’re probably going to find me curled up under a blanket watching the Lizzie McGuire movie or re reading a Harry Potter for the millionth time, or returning to the hundred acre wood yet again.
There are so many articles touting advice and giving suggestions of what to do during this lockdown period, but I have no advice for you or suggestions and definitely not explanations. This is really just a post about nothingness, which is to be honest most of our lives right now. Just know that if you’re feeling down, or trapped, if you’re returning to childhood comforts or dreaming of long missed friends it’s ok. Nothing else is normal right now so why should your head be, but you’re not alone I’m right there too and so I’m guessing is most of the world.