So with less than 24 hours to go until I get to haul my case off the gangway and wave the ship that has been my home for the past two and a half months a hearty goodbye, I feel I should probably write some sort of conclusive, emotional farewell post. When people say to me ‘wow, I can’t imagine how you must be feeling! You must be so excited to get off!’ And I’m like well yes, but in all honesty it’s just plain weird. I just feel…. weird.
I was emailing my dad about this, saying that getting off is sort of like someone opening the curtains in a room that’s been dark for so long, although it makes the room lighter you’re eyes haven’t had time to adjust yet and the sudden brightness makes you cower and cringe. And I quote his response to my feeling weird ‘although always happy to get off, looking forward to seeing loved ones and being amongst some greenery, I do however become institutionalised on board ships. You never have to think about shopping, cooking, travelling, traffic jams, the laundries right there, you don’t have to carry money or worry about noisy neighbours, basically you’re in a bubble and my biggest decision is what training I’m doing that day and when you get off it does feel weird….’ such truth this man speaks. Mandy and I went into town yesterday and found ourselves just standing in the middle of the road, leaving our phones and purses on the table and just walking off before remembering that you can’t do that sort of thing in the real world.
I am comfortable here. I get up in the morning thirty seconds before I’m due to start work (sorry boss), throw my clothes on a stagger up the stairs to set up for breakfast. I come back down, crawl back into bed and read my book for half an hour until it’s time to serve breakfast. I have my two hard boiled eggs, answer my emails and then start work again. At 10 I have an iced tea or coffee and apple and I have a chat with the engineers. I work some more, I have lunch, I work some more and then I train, warm up cardio, HIIT and weights, I watch some TV, I work some more, I watch a film and then I sleep. A routine and a schedule that I am so completely used to that I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with going back to the spontaneous life I usually lead. Of course, this is all just me reflecting- I am absolutely overjoyed to be getting off and after my first two vodka tonics this will all seem like just a distant memory.
I am so incredibly proud of myself. The fact that I have completed this trip is very important to me, because it is the first work-related decision I have made that hasn’t ended in flames with my Dad having to come and rescue me. This is the first bridge I haven’t burned, the first contract I haven’t terminated prematurely. When I told my mum the decision I had reached about taking the position she said to me, after many attempts to get me to change my mind and stay in London due to the minimal success of my previous endeavours, that if it was really that bad I could always get off and fly home in St Helena. No. This was NOT going to be another one of Charlotte’s failures. I was NOT going to let my anxieties and weaknesses stop me from reaping in every reward that this particular trip was offering to me and I was going to summon all the strength that I had spent months rebuilding since returning from the hell that was my experience in Australia, and I was going to successfully complete the expedition, in full, simple. And I fucking did it.
I do love a good reminisce, especially when it’s something that has somewhat changed my life, and although I can’t put my finger on it something about leaving does feel a little off. I guess it’s a mixture of sadness, anxiety about returning to my old life- will it be as good? And a feeling that it was all just a dream, a mad, rushed, chaotic dream where I went to the Falkland Islands, saw penguins and seals in Antarctica and wondered around The World’s Most Remote Island and St Helena… where I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, crossed the Equator… where I swam in a makeshift swimming pool made from pallets and tarpaulin, where I lay down with a handful of people who I just so happened to be crossing paths with, albeit fleetingly, at one o’clock in the morning and looked up at the starriest sky I had ever seen in my life. The black, curved expanse of an unpolluted abyss that was heavily freckled with creamy constellations and blindly bright stars, eating handmade crisps and giggling at silly one-o’clock-in-the-morning things.
Roll your eyes at me, go on, but I’ve had a weirdly wonderful, stressful, enlightening, frustrating time on here and am so relieved to be reminded that life is never certain, that your plans are always changing and you never know what the next day could throw at you. One day you could be sat at home in your freezing igloo of a flat in London, and the next day you could be hastily planning for your immediate departure to the planets most unique environments. I close my eyes and I pray that life will always throw mountains in my seemingly straight path because although the climb may be difficult, the view from the top is always so indescribably worth it.