Vignettes is my place for the moments in my life that don’t make it into full posts, but are important to me: A necklace of tiny unconnected stories from my life.
These vignettes cover a breadth of emotion, as well as flying, family and friends. Enjoy!
I haven’t had a crush for a while. That sense of a falling infatuation, of a tiny secret burst of joy when you think about the object of desire. But then again, I’d forgotten how distracting it is. My productivity’s dropped through the floor as I gaze off into space, thinking about it. Him. Distracting but… delicious. Like raspberries – sweet, but also tangy and tart. I think I like it, even if it fades as quickly as the burst of fruit in my mouth, and passes as summer moves into autumn. Even a sip of raspberry crush has kindled something I’d forgotten was there.
Tiredness creeps through me, a slow lassitude that seeps into my muscles and joints like golden syrup into sponge pudding. I long for my bed, or even hammock or armchair, but instead I’m in a rough taxi, with literally miles to go before I sleep. About 8000 of them. Goodbye Thailand, see you soon, London.
She’s much older, but I think she envies me my current life. (Unhappily?) married when she was my age, she sees the fact that I don’t live with someone – and therefore don’t have to pick up his dirty boxers from the floor – as a very good thing indeed. I try to tell her that picking up someone else’s pants isn’t really on my list even if I was cohabiting, but nonetheless, it’s a different perspective on being single.
A Different Kind of Flight
I never thought I’d end up ice-skating in Thailand. Talk about incongruous. I stumbled onto the ice an hour before much like Bambi taking his first steps. Legs wobbling, arms out wide for balance, torso sawing back and forth as I attempted to stabilise myself. Despite a fear of falling over, embarrassment, and my fingers getting cut off by someone else’s skates, I’ve gained a little speed on each circuit of the ice, and now I feel like I’m flying. My cheeks are rosy, the smile on my face a mile wide. I feel the joy of a child. There’s no productivity here, no task to achieve. It’s pure play. Mind you, I can still only stop by slamming into the barrier. That had better be next time’s lesson.
Brought Up Short
I’m at the airport, dressed in the mandatory-for-women abaya. Mostly I forget about it. Business as usual, I wear it only for the journey to and from the airport. But striding through the business lounge, I see an attractive westerner, and I stumble. I avoid eye contact and ignore him. I feel something strange. Something I didn’t expect. Something that’s out of place. Shame. I realise that when I travel through swathes of locals, the abaya just feels like a way to fit in. Uncomfortable – hot – but I can ignore it. But seeing that guy…I feel somehow diminished. Lesser. It’s a strange feeling. The definition of shame “feeling humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong behaviour” which sounds about right. It’s not a good feeling. Not a good feeling at all.
My drive to be productive over this last year has involved me listening to a lot of podcasts. When I travel, when I eat, when I exercise. I suck in information at 1.5xspeeds, and it’s great. Satisfying and efficient. An unexpected downside has been I’ve somehow forgotten how much I love music. But in the last few weeks, spurred on by developing a playlist to write specific scenes to for my fiction, I’ve meandered through my music collection, dusting off classics and discovering new tunes. I’ve rediscovered the pure, unalloyed joy of listening to your own personal soundtrack while you walk through the world. A song truly can transform a scene; in real life just as much as for a story.
A Light Goes Out
A lump in my throat. It’s hard to swallow. I’ve cried rivers of tears already, the dam broken at that point when I realised it was real, that death was the only possible outcome. But today it’s about paying tribute, being grateful for a life well lived, a legacy passed down. I can get through my reading without tears, I think.
With a blink, I realise Egypt’s growing on me. This time, this experience, has been much better than the last. No sexual harassment, fun delegates, and the sound of Arabic flowing around me. Oh, and falafel. I really love falafel. And then I realise that the whole of the Middle East has made an indelible impression on me. A place that I used to view with suspicion has found space in a corner of my heart. The people, the hospitality, some of the customs. The kindness. Of course, I’m still uncomfortable with some aspects – I can’t imagine ever taking a law for women to wear an abaya lightly. But nonetheless. I love the smell of the desert, the hustle and bustle of exotic streets, the terrible, terrible traffic and driving. And once again I marvel at the mind’s ability to get used to things.
The Six Primal Emotions
Today was an emotional roller coaster. A chance for some suppressed emotions to squeeze their way out of a tightly closed box. I wept, this morning, after a difficult encounter with an insensitive stranger. I was elated after I interviewed a blogger I love for my series on self-care, and we seemed to really resonate. I was angry at a loved one when we played a game of ‘no, but’ and the conversation was a waste of time. And I was excited when a crush sent me a fun message. And now I’m exhausted. I’ve covered four of the primal emotions – joy, sadness, surprise and anger- thoroughly. I just hope fear and disgust stay away a little longer.
Long Journey Home
I get to the desk, and yet again there’s some problem with my ticket. When I’d done the London leg, they’d said: “We’re sorry Madam, you have a booking but no ticket. We don’t know why.” It had taken 30 minutes and three BA airline staff to sort it. I’m on Emirates now, Dubai to Bangkok, and it’s already 11pm at night. I just want to get on the plane, get under the scratchy blanket, and drop into a fitful sleep. I wait a few minutes, unsure. I’m holding up the queue. I’m awkward. Did I do something wrong? Did they lose my bags – again? The attendant is frowning at the computer, tapping at keys. Eons later, he prints out a new boarding pass. He hands it to me, all smiles. “You’ve been upgraded to Business. Have a nice flight.”
The Family You Choose
I love my blood family, very, very much. But tonight, I’m surrounded by my other family, the one I chose. Sometimes I worry about my friendships. About leaving old ones behind, and struggling to make new ones because I’m such a moving target. Then I’m blessed with an evening like this one, where so many of my friends surround me, and I feel champagne bubbles of happiness that they’ll stick with me whatever crazy adventures I get up to. Despite the fact I’m out of the country half of the time, they’ve still come for a drink, to say hi, to hang out. I feel drunk on joy and good feelings. On gratitude and love. The best kind of friends – they know my faults and my strengths and love me anyway.
Dance Party in My Head
We landed an hour ago. There are probably 20 people in front of us right now. The same 20 people who were in front of us when we joined the queue. It’s impossible to tell what’s happening at the front, and since we don’t speak Arabic, it’s hard to know what’s going on. It’s immensely frustrating. I’m hot, especially given the outfit. The AC is on but it’s 45 degrees outside and the AC is old. Less than 10% of the 150-200 people around me are women. I know I should probably meditate, ground myself, breathe, but I take refuge in my iPod instead, in a song which is delightfully inappropriate for the time and the place:
Which of these do you resonate with? Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comments…