Imagine being suddenly taken from your current life and plopped into an entirely new one with barely any preparation or knowledge of how it’s going to turn out; Would that stress you out? Or are you like me, someone who get’s weird tummy jumps of excitement at the thought of sudden change, of irrational and spontaneous upheaval? I say ‘excitement’… it’s a strange one to describe… it’s like that pain we inflict upon ourselves to feel a perverse sort of pleasure, like rubbing a sore muscle that makes us suck in the air through our teeth because it’s tender, yet we carry on anyway because it feels kind of nice. That’s what these upheavals are like for me, I get a strange high from something or someone taking my perfectly normal (albeit often stagnant) existence and shaking it around like a snow globe. All the bits and pieces that were still and self-assured are tossed into the air like pancakes, a miniature chaos that disturbs the peace and alters perspective.
I know for a lot of people my lifestyle is unimaginable, like people actually cannot fathom what it’s like to live out of a suitcase, moving from place to place with such uncertainty, never knowing where you’re going to be one month from the next. I’ve had people message me in the past with things like ‘I would be so stressed not having a permanent place to live, or a career to fall back on.’ The thought of living day by day is the perfect nightmare for so many people, and they aren’t shy about sharing their opinions either, oh no. ‘Why on earth would you want to live like that?’ ‘That sounds like my idea of hell’ they say as if they are trying to make me feel wrong and dirty, ashamed about my lifestyle choice. Most of the time I milk it and just rub salt in the wound, nonchalance at its finest with my most aloof ‘Meh, sometimes I don’t even book a place to stay in advance’ then watch them squirm uncomfortably at such recklessness like an ant under a microscope.
But other times I just want to violently shout ‘OH WELL YOU KNOW WHAT KAREN? Your bumpkin lifestyle of doing your big Asda shop on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday so you don’t bump into Susan from down the road who you went to school with and complaining that they’ve upped the price of ketchup whilst recording Eastenders to watch with your stella-drinking husband on a Saturday night over a greasy Chinese isn’t my idea of a cushy number either you know’ but then all of a sudden I’m the opinionated bitch? So I find placid milking and a change of subject the best approach when tackling situations such as these.
Only three whole days left until freedom. I have been on this ship for two and a half months now with only three days of shore time. That’s two and a half months stuck in one place, no walking, no nature, and no family- just this big ol’ tin can, a handful of people from all backgrounds and the elements. If you ask anyone who knows me they’ll tell you I have major commitment issues; relationships, housing agreements, phone contracts, the lot. Anything with a lengthy time frame or even worse, an unknown time frame is like, as Mrs. Kingsley from Wild Child would say, a nightclub… not something I tend to enter into. My biggest fear (other than my family dying) is 1) Going to prison and 2) Going into space. The common theme here being restriction and confinement, freedom being a privilege that is unavailable to you no matter how desperate you are for it. You could call it a sort of ‘claustrophobia’ but on a life size scale, the thought of being in an elevator isn’t frightening but the thought of being trapped in a relationship makes my chest tighten and palms sweat. This, amongst other things, is why I’ve had over eight jobs, why I only work for agencies and not companies- why I’m single, I suppose.
Thinking about it however, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is exciting, thrilling and it means something- my world is forever changing. The important things are a permanent fixture but the scenery and circumstance; well they are as interchangeable and as limitless as number sequences. You can add any ingredient to the bowl and make something entirely different every day if you like, granted some of the outcomes will taste like shit but every so often you’ll get that perfect blend of flavours and create something extraordinary. What I like most about it all is that I can be anything new at any time; I can go from barefoot-coconut-water-drinking-island girl to white-shirt-black-tie-royal-family-waitress girl (just two of the persona’s I tried out last year!) and back again and be happy in both roles.
It’s like an endless supply of wardrobe changes with new possibilities coming in every day, how refreshing does that sound? Of course society takes its toll and occasionally I am made to feel like I am doing something wrong by not being certain of who I am and what I want to be at all times. My unpredictable and uncategorized nature ringing alarm bells in Conformists HQ- ‘attack this girl from all angles with pressure for success and the dooming consequences of failure! Pump her full of unrealistic and unachievable expectations until she quits her fight for freedom and becomes a pawn piece like the rest of them!’ And sadly sometimes it works and I become numb to my morals and beliefs, social media creeping its way back into my life like devils snare, the addictive taste of processed foods, the habit of brain-cell-burning scrolling on my smart phone, the images of women with flawless bodies fuelling my unhealthy obsession with body image. My goals of mindfulness and growth, awareness and my thirst for knowledge take a backseat and I can feel my mind shutting down.
We got phone signal today now we are back in home waters and it actually broke my heart to see people standing on deck with their phones in their hands. I have really come to love tea-break time, sitting with a cuppa in hand and chatting to everyone, watching as Mandy and Euan do the daily Sudoku and enjoying the company of others with absolutely no distraction, just either pleasant chit-chat or the comfortable, relaxed, smart-phone-free silence. Sitting in the bar in the evening and watching films together, playing cards of just having a laugh; a slice of what human life used to be before technology came and ruined everything. And what’s worse is I hate it, all of it, but I can’t seem to stop, to pull myself away either. For every ounce of connection social media offers you there’s a ton of isolation walking in hand in hand with it, a bittersweet cycle of wanting to be closer to friends and family thus wasting life on social media waiting to hear from them and then fretting about the lack of connection received due to yearning for it through a screen.
As happy as I am that I will soon be off of here and free to roam, I am anxious about resuming real life. After having been to places like the unpolluted freshness of Antarctica and Tristan Da Cunha where all that matters is the happiness and safety of the community, I am not looking forward to being ignored and bashed about by materialistic Londoners and judgemental Karen’s and revert to no one talking because they’ve got a phone in hand.
Still, it’ll be nice to cuddle my loved ones and eat hummus until I die so there’s always that