And she’s off again, dismantling the treasures from her sweet Camden bedroom. Postcards and posters peeled off, books taken off for light to shine on the dusty shelves. Staring at this four-walled shell one comes to realise how even the scrubbiest of flats can always become beautiful with human inspiration.
We say goodbye to a time: a city of people and feelings both joyful and sad; and a red-brick apartment that was home to humans and their relationships. Delicious meals, closed doors, untold secrets, anger, grudges, selfishness, indulgences, household bills, personal fears and anxieties, jealousy, isolation… Love and friction were the concrete of these relationships: every moment made what it was and what it is.
How funny that different cities and months have their own particular moods and philosophies. A month ago I flew to the Netherlands for the Ricciotti Ensemble tour. At face value nothing new to me; just a few weeks with a different orchestra. But it turned out to be a shuttle to outer space, a trip to see the world from up way up high. (Something like this Barbie film from my childhood):
For three weeks I existed in a way I had never done before (or perhaps I’d forgotten how over the years). Playing to audiences all over Holland and Scotland, we made them feel special and loved, which in turn made us love what we did even more. It was an orchestra whose members held no judgments against each other or against the public, and that spoke in the language of sharing, respect, honesty and joy. We were children of music and laughter; free to be and to express ourselves.
With fun and play comes exhaustion. Small humans cope with this by sleeping or going home to family. But as young adults we couldn’t always switch off in the same way; there was always something to do for the orchestra, whether that be collecting rubbish, carrying flight cases of band gear or checking if a friend was okay. So often in the evening after (usually) 4 or 5 shows a day, I thought I was sick of playing and setting up music stands. I craved to stop, have an early night in a proper bed (not an air mattress and sleeping bag) and read my book. However, they would plan another pop-up performance in a pub, which would get us free beer in return but would drain us of even more energy.
But, as we move on, these thoughts vanish. The moment everything was taken out the bus and set up in the little pub in Perth, I was ready to play and dance for a new audience, a world away from the moody sloth sinking into her seat only moments ago.
Looking back, I would do it all again. I realised (and am reminded of as I pack my room away) the moments on tour which seemed negative, tiresome and unnecessary, were there for a reason. Even when we didn’t enjoy certain moments – and we have every right to be grumpy and dislike our situation – these displeasures also deserve appreciation and a place on the journey. The discomforts, sensationalised and intensified at the time of having them, but now minor in hindsight, are also important particles in the concrete that created this experience. And while it is important to look after yourself, your emotions are not eternal. Nor are you. Rien n’est éternal. What matters more is what you can effect in the next moment. You have the potential to create and change a person’s life.
Now back in London, I work everyday to nurture this fruit radiance inside me and focus on what I love. I feel it for the body I am blessed with and for the friends that I leave behind. I feel it even when I am beaten after a shift at work and when I envy what other people have or do. It palpitates when I’m sitting on the bus listening to the Beach Boys and returning my books to the library. Having been cut off from reality for 3 weeks, I got used to no social media and so deleted everything when I came back, except for this blog and YouTube account which actually matter to me. (Probably means my readership will drop. Oh well – they will come searching if they miss me.)
Some mornings I wake with a doubt that makes my breathing heavy. In silence, I despair of having barely any emotional support from certain people in my life and get angry at them for dragging me down. But then I let it go, for none of that resentment matters anymore. And there are also some moments where I come close to tears remembering a phone-call or conversation that did the exact opposite: unexpected flashes of hope from the people you do not expect. The person reminds me that I am strong and brave enough to follow my mind; that I must go.
And I will go; it is set. The tickets are booked and a new room awaits me on the other side of the North Sea.
Nobody is going to stop me.
I am an encyclopaedia of life that will keep growing as long as I live.