Why I quit my job…

I was a PA. I worked for an incredibly successful media law firm in the most successful department and was highly regarded by my peers, my team, my direct bosses, my firm and the managing partner for my hard work and for always going above and beyond in my PA capacity. But I quit. 

I left my safe job for nothing. I literally left for a life of nothingness. 

I had no boyfriend, no hobbies, no active social life aside from occasionally hanging out with ‘my boys’, as I lovingly call them. I wasn’t embracing the life of London in the slightest. 

This wasn’t my job’s fault. But I quit. 

I took myself away from my safe zone and a life that wasn’t alive so that I could breathe with something to actually breathe for. For my day to become ‘why am I here…’ as opposed to ‘why am I here?!?’ 

Do I want to spend the final year of my twenties in an office hoping that I’ll soon get a pay rise that reflects the work I do, and a boyfriend that will want to go on adventures with me and love me for the person I am including my flaws and fakery, and a home I can raise my children in where they won’t have to worry about stability or safety because I am strong enough to create that for them. 

I don’t have these children and I don’t have that environment for them because I haven’t lived the life that will lead me to that form of emotional comfort where I can pass this on to them. I don’t have this boyfriend because I haven’t put myself in any place where we both thrive and shine bright enough to see each other. And I really don’t have this magical pay rise because, oddly enough, I hadn’t asked for it. I didn’t tell them my worth, I merely hoped they would notice it and reward me accordingly. I forgot the world is a business. 

So I quit. Although, no, I didn’t. Or rather, I haven’t. 

Not yet, I tell my friends that ask. I’m saving up, is my monologue of choice; not being strictly untrue. Saving in London is a running joke to all PAs from working or lower class backgrounds living here. 

I hate making excuses for my life because I have overcome so much and am capable of overcoming so much more, I know this, but I do have a pang of hatred slice into my gut when I hear others talk so breezily about the opportunities life presents if only we push ourselves. Often these conversations come from those that have never had to invent dinners as a child from whatever was almost out of date in the cupboard because buying new food was too expensive. [FYI, rice and gravy (literally just those two things) is Really nice if you thicken the gravy; my sister invented that meal when we were pre-teens.]

My plan (Jesus even I’m sick of that word) is to [try to] save for ten months, and then move to Canada on the work and travel visa before hitting my thirties and that privilege runs out! 

Then my post will be a Fuck Yes, rather than a Here’s What You Could’ve Had monologue. 

My greatest fear of repeating a life in poverty is the fear that makes me stay in a job where I can pay for my rent and food each month. I’ve been poor and I was able to be happy. The happiest people make the most of what they have, they don’t have the most; we’ve all seen the memes and know it’s actually true, but the knowledge of how hard it was, and that I don’t have to live like that, scares me more than the hope of how good it can be. 

One more push for the road.

xxHBxx

Waiting to Exhale 

Just breathe…! My mantra of late. 

With a little over a year under my belt in my current job I had thought I was now a pro at sussing out my boss. As it turns out, I had been little more than conditioned to simply take the bullshit and get on with it. 

Everything comes in threes and last week my triangle was completed. 

It began Wednesday, turning up to work and telling my two desk buddies that it was going to be a horrible day because ‘boss’ was going to yell at me. I hadn’t made any mistakes or done anything to piss her off, it was simply the only day that week that she would be in the office and, experience told me, I would be deafened for it as usual. 

My desk buddies laughingly brushing it off ended at 1.10pm when I arrived at our usual lunch spot late and in tears. 

After being yelled at to get into the toilet cubicle so that ‘boss’ could yell at me in private I stood with my legs to a toilet as she blocked the door and swore at me for being busy that morning with deadlined work for my other boss, her equal in rank within the firm. 

Defending myself I calmly explained that my other boss’ deadline was 1pm (as I had already told her) and I couldn’t interrupt that to add the minor amendments ‘boss’ wanted in the letter she was sending out at 3pm. (I’m talking adding two commas to this letter…it was interrupting for interrupting’s sake!)

When there was nowhere further she could go on this point she swore at me for a box of files at her desk. To which I explained she still needed to go through that box before I sent it to storage. 

When this fizzled she simply told me she was very mad at me with a few F-bombs for good measure, then walked out of the cubicle. 

I walked back to my desk, picked up my bag and contemplated getting the tube to Heathrow, if only I carried my passport as standard for ID. 

A day of simultaneous shaking and bursting into tears at my desk my anxiety rash was back on my neck and I organised a meeting with HR. 

The next day I organised a meeting with HR and our Staff Partner. After more than a year of this same routine I would no longer work for her. 

That was One. 

Thursday was anxiety-rash filled and contained fewer tears until I decided retail therapy with a friend might help. 

I had broken my favourite pair of flip flops tripping over nothing in River Island meaning I had to walk around Oxford Street barefoot until I found a new pair I liked – which, it turns out, I don’t like any new flip flops these days. They’re uncomfortable and weird (who the hell wants straps up to their knees when wearing FLATS?!?) I am having money troubles and this is the last expense I need. 

(Two) 

Then, while stood outside Debenhams waiting for my friend to come back from the restroom, leaning against the window smoking and staring at my broken shoe and bare feet, a random guy decides I’m the perfect tragedy to call fat. 

Kick me when I’m down, fucker!

He walked up, said “Well, you’re a fatty!” and walked straight past smiling and looking back for my reaction. 

In shock I could only muster “you’re kidding me right now, right!” To which he burst out laughing and shouted back “keep eating bitch!!” 

Well fuck me did I crumble. 

(Three) 

My friend came back from the toilets to see me shaking and crying and wanting to run away but I had a broken fucking shoe!! 

It was my first week wearing a skirt – in about 7 years – in public let alone to work. I had worked so hard to feel comfortable enough for this and then BOOM, down she goes, because of the last twat of the day. 

I got an Uber home because I couldn’t handle walking barefoot down Oxford Street anymore and I didn’t want to face any more of the public for fear they’d make me want to walk into traffic. When I got home, I stripped to my underwear, stood in the front of the mirror and broke down. 

Crouched on the floor in a bra and pants I shook from sobbing so hard, asking the universe for mercy. I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t keep picking myself up and trying to love myself then being slammed down out of nowhere. I couldn’t keep living like this. This wasn’t life. How was this possibly life? 

This wasn’t going to make me stronger, I had been getting stronger. This was a game to someone. I was powerless. 

I cried until my head was exploding and then I slept. About 3 hours. 

Friday at work I barely spoke. My friends knew what had happened and tried to help, but at lunch I chose to sit alone as I cried on the phone to my sister. Refusing to eat, I smoked for my lunch. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and I never wanted to eat again. 

I honestly crashed. 

Thinking of it now, and reading it how others may read this, I was throwing myself a huge pitty party. But I needed to cry. 

I needed to cry for everything the last year had put me through. I needed to cry for the girl that had been treated like a dog by her boss for a year and had come back to it every time like a puppy does. I needed to cry for the girl that stood in front of the mirror and tried to like herself every day. I needed to cry for the girl that was struggling with money so badly that having her flip flop break was the last thing she needed right now. 

What I hadn’t realised was that I was noticed so much. 

It had been noted how strong I had tried to be over this year. It had been noted how much I tried to find confidence in myself. And it had been noted that seeing me completely broken down left my entire group of friends terrified for me. 

Later on, after work drinks where I hardly spoke, I was at the pub with two of my close girl friends and my closest guy friend, all from work. I didn’t know what to say or how to smile, I was numb, so my friends said everything to make me feel better. 

It wasn’t until my guy friend, after much internal debate, said “I wasn’t going to say anything, but then I saw how upset you were at lunch and how badly this has affected you because of your past…” – he then broke the ‘guy code’ and told me what the guys in the office say about me at our firm’s football games. I burst out laughing and his work was done. 

I don’t believe him, I’m not sure I’m capable right now of believing it, but it was nice to hear at the time. 

I spent Friday drunk and hungry with friends. Saturday sunbathing and laughing with friends, and then we dyed my hair pink again. And Sunday I slept. 

Today, my anxiety rash was back and my shakes were in full force and I realised I need to leave my environment. 

This isn’t me. 

I’m not someone’s secretary, or their dog as I have been this year. I’m not a desk girl and I’m not a skirts at work girl, no matter what heat. 

I need a plan, and today I realised it; I’ll stay for 8 more months (after last week, that feels like a lifetime), save as much as I can, and travel to Canada. 

I’ve always wanted to see Canada and if I want to work there one time in my life, I have to do it before I’m thirty. 

I turn twenty-eight in a month. The clock won’t pause while I think. 

Running away might sound like I’ll never fix anything, but I don’t run away, I run towards. 

I’m running towards my future; I just can’t do it with only £1,800 in my bank (and a maxed-out credit card I’m wishing I’d never paid for last year’s trip to Bali on!). That’s a ticket and a months rent, I’d fail before I left. 

Saving and making sure I change my working environment within work is my daily plan. Surviving the day is also my priority. But having a goal, and a plan to go with it, time will fly. And then I will. 

xxHBxx

A novel idea

I’ve thought about writing a book about my travels since before I even left England to go on them. I thought what a brilliant way to fund my future travels; I’ll write everything down, become a best selling author and continue writing and travelling until I don’t want to anymore.

While travelling I found no time to write except for quick updates and photo uploading on my social media page; this was frequent and detailed. I didn’t sit down alone and write my biography while I was out there because, in all frankness, I had better things to do.

I talked, listened, explored, experienced everything I could where I was while I was able; and I repeated this each and every day I was out there.

It only occurred to me today, as I have still yet to write about that life I lived, that my thoughts behind the desire to write about my travels hadn’t been motivational enough for me.

I don’t care about money. I only care that I have enough to do what I want in that day, whether it is to fly somewhere or grab a coffee while exploring.

I don’t care about labels. I refuse to pigeonhole my whole self and I know my successes without a best seller or an academy award as acknowledgment of that.

I don’t care about what anyone may think of the girl they saw two years ago and before. That girl even I didn’t know. I look at old photos and think back to not too old memories and don’t recognise the person I was walking around as.

What I do care about is the person I became when unleashed. When set free. I followed only my heart and grew into myself.

I had joked before I left that I was leaving to find myself. The cliche of travelling being very real to someone that hadn’t travelled, like myself. What I thought would happen would be that I was hit with a sudden and drastic epiphany that would awaken and reveal the real me after a long and intense journey of some sorts while in a desert or log cabin somewhere. But life isn’t a movie, and it’s not a book.

I didn’t go to a log cabin and I only passed through deserted areas. Instead it took more than a year of awakenings to realise I was living my epiphany without consciously being aware of the fact.

When I originally planned the penning of my book it was filled with dreams and ideals, and entirely about me. What I realised while travelling was that I became less interested in my story as I lived my days with the people around me.

I was still, of course, interested and curious in my own story but I was becoming more aware of the impact we place in each others’ lives simply by living our lives with one another.

I wanted to tell that story.

I realised that I couldn’t believe these people I was meeting would be completely unknown, forgotten even, to so many when they where so incredible.

Unless I tell the story of Kathleen Glass, a South Carolina woman I met on the greyhound to Charleston last July, a woman who sat on the seat at the other window across from me and pointed out the points of interest around us while we rode through South Carolina and told stories about all of them until I fell asleep from being up almost 24 hours. When I woke up on that Greyhound bus, my first Greyhound trip and having heard so many horror stories about the people that ride the Greyhound, I found a stamped and addressed envelope, a postcard and a note on the seat next to me. Kathleen had written her address on the envelope, she had asked me to write to her about my travels so she could show her daughter to go out and live just as I was, and the postcard contained a list of websites for South Carolina tourism along with a small note to please make sure I visit South Carolina again. On the front of the postcard, that she had carried around with her as a personal reminder, was a quote; “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” And she was gone.

I was in America for 149 days; I knew Kathleen Glass for 3 hours. And I will never forget her.

My book began as an Eat, Pray, Love knockoff, but I didn’t live Elizabeth Gilbert’s life. I finally lived mine. And I was never alone.

Writing for them.

xxHBxx

93 Million Miles from the Sun

“Over the horizon, into the night..”

Four months ago I left my home in Ocean Beach, San Diego and headed out to Hawaii. The week prior to me leaving OB something changed me. Or rather, I suspect, someone.

I don’t make a habit of falling in love, albeit this blog may beg to differ, however I met a person in OB that I slowly, reluctantly allowed into my life and eventually my heart. His name, to all in OB, is Boston.

A lot happened in me at that first bonfire on the beach, but one thing started a chain of events I wasn’t wanting, or even willing, to happen.

I had seen Boston briefly back at our hostel a few hours before everyone headed to the beach. I noticed him above the other new faces because he struck an eerie resemblance to K, my club rep back in LA who had given me the confidence to live comfortably without makeup just three weeks before. I had remained in contact with K to the point where he had asked to join me in Hawaii and was planning when he would arrive and where he would stay; I had little faith he would actually fly out to see me but it was a sweet notion nonetheless.

When stealing glances at Boston I could tell their differences in appearance we obvious; Boston’s strong predominant jawline was nothing like K’s subtley defined one, and Boston’s long brown hair as opposed to K’s shaven head, but the striking similarities were there. I had seen photos of K with long hair pulled back into a ponytail with dark stuble framing his smile and it was this image of K that Boston was most alike to.

At the bonfire I found an opening in the group and sat by the fire. I was between my new friends I had met playing beer pong at the hostel on my first night in OB before we had moved on to a bar for games of pool and $6 pitchers of beer, to my right and Boston to my left. After a while watching the fire and our growing group of travellers and locals I began talking with Boston.

At first it was like drawing blood from a stone getting this creature to talk. Either he was quiet and mysterious by nature or he just wanted to appear that way; whichever it was his likeness to K intrigued me enough to keep trying.

I silently began attempting to size him up and figure him out as our conversation slowly developed from idle to amusing.

He was at the hostel but he wasn’t a traveller; something a lot of young people I had found throughout my journey did while looking for a house and job. He was also holding a lot back.

Having come from Miami, his home after Boston, he briefly mentioned that he had had to “get out of there” and I didn’t press it further. In my head I was imagining him with the wrong crowd and a bounty on his head but I didn’t ask for more details since he seemed pained to discuss it. Instead I asked about his decision to move to California. He didn’t seem the ‘beach’ type in my innocent eyes. He looked as though he would be more at home in new York based on his clothing and demeanour. His answer was effectively that he wanted to live by the beach; couldn’t argue with that, except he’d just moved from one. By this point in the conversation I felt like I was trying to levitate a rock and carve it into a small replica of a Mini Cooper complete with working engine using just my mind. It was painful but not awkward somehow. He was simply holding back but wanting to talk, so we carried on.

Eventually when he found a topic he was on fire. The topic we struck gold with was relationships (the one universal topic each individual has in common with any other – love dilemmas). He told me how every girl always wants a bad guy that treats her badly. I strongly begged to differ expressing the fact I could only speak for myself but my ‘type’ has only ever been nice guys. I can find anyone beautiful if they are a genuinely nice person. He told me I was lying to myself for saying this and I told him every one of my exes has nothing in common in appearance, hobbies, lifestyles or height, they are simply all genuinely nice guys and I dont have any bad words to say about them as individuals (as boyfriends some of them do lose brownie points, however as people every one of them is a good guy, and that’s why I was with them). This conversation had us each stood facing a brick wall refusing to give in for a while before we both decided each other was right; maybe some girls do like bad guys, and maybe a few exceptions to the rule do just like nice guys. Compromise to get the conversation out of the hole.

Suddenly my birthday was asked. I gave the date and he smiled to himself. Why was this amusing?!

He was born the day after me, five years later. We are Leo’s.

I don’t pay too much attention to starsigns. I find them fun to read when I come across one and I usually find truth in them but mostly because I’m seeking it.

He described us as being stubborn and passionate by nature. I was about to protest the stubborn comment until I replayed our previous conversation in my head and thought about how long we had actually been facing the wall both refusing to back down. I agreed with the passionate statement however my positive outlook and Boston’s negative one meant we interpretted this differently too. I said I was lead by my passion and that it is an incredibly positive thing; it had encouraged me to work two (at one point three) jobs and save as much as I possibly could so that I could fulfil my dream of travelling across America alone. It had brought me to this point in my life where I was sat next to him by a bonfire on the beach with the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing loudly behind us as we talked. However Boston agreed we are lead by our passion but it is a negative part of our character. We do not see things clearly as we are too driven by our emotions. True; but not always a negative – I felt.

I met a person from the Netherlands while in OB that said to me in a rather defeatest tone “why do you do that?! Why do you always see everything in a positive way?!” to which I had no reply for him. The magority of time I had known him he had spent a lot of it discussing life, the future, and small details of the day under a dark cloud. I simply stood in front of this person and thought ‘I wouldn’t trade my outlook for the world’. When I thought about this remark later in the day I sat with a smile on my face as I thought of how far I had come without even realising it; the only negative remark I heard while travelling was by this person telling me that I am too positive in my life. How could I not smile at that.

While at the bonfire with Boston we continued our discussions and I learnt that, much like our starsign, he sees himself to be like a lion of the kingdom. He passionately discussed the character of lions, which I felt was a bizarre twist in the conversation but at least the rock was starting to resemble a vehicle now. It was during this discussion that I became aware of Boston’s crude nature. I was baffled and repulsed. The conversation went from strange to obscene in almost no time and I felt, for the first time in his presence, uncomfortable.

I was known amoungst my friends at school to be quite prude; in fact it’s so embarrassing to remember that I wouldn’t comfortably say the word ‘condom’ until I was seventeen. I wouldn’t describe myself as prude now at all, and I don’t scare easily in the slightest, but this conversation brought me back to my sixteen year old self. He was so graffic I blushed. I had never met anyone like him.

As the bonfire was beginning to unwind we all headed back to the hostel. It was pitch black and everyone was tired. I felt that Boston was going to hit on me and so I created a distance between us as we walked back. He asked me if I would walk with him along the pier; oh come on! What part of that entire conversation made him think he’d ‘got’ me?!

I made my excuses and said no; far too tired, it’s cold, too dark, I have to pee, oh look shiny things..!

Over the next few days I would see Boston at the hostel and felt bad for him. His ego and crude approach wasn’t winning him any friends and so, raised by my Father to always stick up for the underdog, when I saw him I would talk to him. Always keeping a slight distance as I didn’t want him to think I was interested in him in that way I remained polite and jokey with this interesting character. A few people asked me why I was talking to him, something that made me want to talk to him more – why wasn’t anyone giving him a chance?! My response was always ‘he’s not a bad guy, he just puts on a front to protect himself. He’s actually really funny.’ I firmly believed this. He was funny, if a lot crude with it. He wasn’t a mean person, he’d obviously been hurt badly and was a walking ego so that no one saw him. He was protecting himself and there is never anything wrong with that, we all have our own survival techniques. But I could see he wasn’t a bad guy, as much as he liked the idea of labelling himself as one. (Trust me Boston, it doesn’t get the girls – at least not this one).

A few days later he left with some others from the hostel and headed to San Francisco. I didn’t think that I would see him again.

Then after a couple of days I was sat on the front porch of the hostel and someone said “hey there’s Boston”, I turned around and walking down the street towards the hostel was Boston. For some reason, I still have no real clue where it came from other than instinct, I happily screamed and gave him a huge hug as he got to the porch. I was happy to see him. In fact I was really happy to see him. Why!?

We got back into the routine of chatting when we saw each other around and then gradually it became more frequent. One day some girls I hadn’t seen before got to the porch and Boston suddenly jumped up, looked at me and said “we have to go, walk with me!” I was completely confused and he urgently repeated “will you just walk with me!?” I quickly got up and we started walking fast away from the hostel towards the beach. I was caught up in excitement and was thinking I was about to get some juicey gossip here, as it turned out he had just seized an opportunity to get me to go to the beach with him alone. Crafty.

We talked as we walked and while we were sat on the beach. We were laughing and talking about everything from relationships to the crazy-acting guy that tried to join us on the beach and had told us, ironically, to watch out for crazy people. Boston seemed disappointed when I suggested we go back to the hostel; he’d wanted to kiss me and I could tell. I didn’t feel romantic towards him. He was a friend.

I’m not sure how but over that week, as we were spending a little more time together, he started to tell me his feelings towards me. He wasn’t wearing his ego quite so much anymore. At first he only stripped off his ego when he was around me, jumping back into the routine when he felt others confront him or approach him, but soon enough he was slowly showing the world the Boston that I got to see alone. As this was happening he was becoming more social too. He could be found sat watching the world go by from the porch, deep in thought, on his own on almost every day but on one day I came down ready to hit the beach and found him playing chess with others on the porch; it was like a tornado hit me. I was so happy for him the more I saw him like this. I smiled at him and went to the beach.

With a few days before I would leave for Hawaii Boston began proposing to me and telling everyone, loudly, at the hostel that I was his future wife. Even writing this now makes me smile at the memory of it. He told strangers on the beach that we were talking to that he wanted to marry me. It was hilarious and sweet. When we were alone I was smiling; I couldn’t quite believe how fond I’d grown of this guy that just ten days ago was so arrogant and crude I could barely stand him.

One day he completely opened up to me. I’m not sure how it happened or what prompted it, but he let down every wall and talked. He talked about his feelings for me, his past, everything. He was nervous while talking and kept breaking off in the conversation through nervousness. It was a nice moment to be a part of.

The next day I gave him a piece of paper with the link to this blog. I hadn’t told many people about this blog and, given that my raw thoughts and feelings are all over the pages of it, felt my stomach in knots as I handed him the key to my feelings. “This is me.”

The next day he sat with me in the kitchen of our hostel. He told me he had read my blog. I was shaking; not only had I not told anyone about my blog but I hadn’t prepared myself for someone talking to me face to face about what I had written. He said it was like reading my diary “you’re very honest on it”. He told me it made him uncomfortable. I was devastated. I started shaking more but hid it, my stomach was in knots again and I thought I was going to pass out. I felt like I had gone white. I was about to be rejected for showing the real me; I had opened up and it was too much for someone – my biggest fear was coming to life and I wasn’t sure I could handle this.

But then he told me he pushed himself to keep reading, and he couldn’t stop. He told me he is angry at me, because I can’t see how beautiful I am. He told me that from reading everything “it made me like you more..!” I’m not sure I can do justice in words the way I felt after he’d said this to me. All I know is this entire situation, the days before and this moment in the kitchen, made me like him more too.

Over the next few days Boston would smile at me differently, I liked it. Whenever I looked up from whatever I was doing I saw him looking at me with love.

One day we were sat on the porch with the others and he passed me his phone. I read the message he had typed out on it and smiled. I replied and passed it back to him. We were effectively like teenagers it was hilarious at the time and even in remembering it now. He wrote in one message “do you know how I can tell when you like someone?!”…”You bite your lip!” He also said to me that I’m different with him now. I asked how. “You look me in the eyes a lot more now.”

The day before I flew to Hawaii was the OB Farmers Market that happened right outside our hostel. While we were all sat on the porch talking to everyone and eating the food we’d bought at the market Boston looked at me and I smiled and instictively bit my lip. He jumped up, punched the air and whooped and cheered so loud I burst out laughing. Everyone was confused and asking us what was happening. He ran around the porch shouting “YES!!! I knew it!!” while I laughed and told him I needed lipbalm!

That night he told me he had something for me. Knowing him the way he is I made him promise it wasn’t rude!

We were sat in the corridor of the hostel when he asked me to wait there. He came back with a blue lumber-jack jacket rolled up in his arms.

He told me that his Mom had made it when he was younger, that it was incredibly important to him, and that he wanted me to have it.

I told him I couldn’t take this jacket from him. This was too much. He insisted and after a while I accepted the jacket. It was like out of a movie; but better. I couldn’t believe how much this guy cared about me. This was the first time I kissed him. The night before I left for Hawaii.

The next morning I waited for him to wake up but knowing I was leaving at noon and he usually woke up around then I went to his room and knocked on the door. He opened the door from his bed and lay there as he told me about his strange dream he had just had. I fought every instinctive urge I had in me to lay down next to him and just cuddle up to him. I told him I was leaving soon so did he want to go for a walk along the pier; “NOW you want to go to the pier!?!” I smiled and told him to get ready quick.

We walked along the pier and stopped at the end. Watching waves and looking out at the horizon we talked about home. I told him I’m not ready to go back home, I haven’t discovered what I want to do with my life yet. I still had a little over two months until my flight home but it seemed to be going quick now. Checking the time we realised I had to get back to the hostel to go to the airport for Hawaii. Walking with his arm around me we headed back. This was the first time anyone at the hostel had seen us so close. When my roommate brought her car around he helped me carry my things to the car. We hugged and he kissed me in front of the hostel. He stood looking at me and said “is this really happening?! You’re really going?” I got into the car and he leaned in through the window, kissed me, and then told my roommate that the plan was to get me drunk so that I wouldn’t notice as she pulled the car around and brought me back to the hostel.

Then I left.

When I was on the plane I looked out at the pier and started crying.

I haven’t seen him since. We have spoken on the phone, talked in text and on our social media page, but three days before I got back to San Diego from Hawaii he told me that he was going back to Miami. It was the hardest decision he had made because of me but he needed to go back.

When I was in New Orleans I was going to go back to San Diego for one last time before I flew to Australia. Boston flew to San Diego from Miami, but I had realised I couldn’t afford to do that in the end and was flying from New Orleans.

He is now in San Diego again. I am back in England.

I found out a few weeks ago that my Dad has cancer, so I flew home last week. I’m not sure how long I will be here. That depends on life.

I don’t fall in love easily.

While in Australia with LF, who I miss so much since leaving her, I was talking about My American and she said “was there any time you forgot about him?” I told her “the only time I didn’t think of him as much was when I was with Boston”.

Now that I am back I am back in contact with My American. I am also in contact with Boston. My feelings for both are completely different. Boston knows me, completely, and he adores me as the girl in front of him, on this page, and in his life. My American has yet to meet me, it’s still up in the air.

I am home now for my family.

What happens now will shape where I go in the future. San Diego, London, Australia..

Living and loving until every end.

xxHBxx

Where do we go from here

 

When I decided to travel nineteen months ago I did not anticipate the catalogue of events this would create for me.

 

I spent a year planning my six month trip around America. I saved vigorously, worked three jobs, limited my social activities as much as I could, worked out my monthly budget, and prepared my case full of things I thought I would need. I remember sitting on the floor in my living room with a map of the United States in front of me; post-it notes, pens, notepads, IPhone, laptop, calculator all neatly around me as I designed the most cost-effective route to get the most out of America for my budget.

 

I am not wealthy. I never have been. My family struggled throughout my life and beforehand. Money has never held importance to me other than ensuring we are able to eat, sleep, and enjoy each others’ company. As a five year old I remember being at my Dad’s house with my sisters and Dad in the living room; we did not have money, we were struggling to pay the rent, my parents had divorced two years before and had lost an incredible amount of money on the house we had to sell. We had moved from the North of England to the Midlands and so both my parents were away from their families. They were alone trying to raise three daughters in a new small town after leaving one of England’s biggest cities, and they now had money troubles along with custody battles to contend with.

 

While in the living room with my Dad and Sisters my Dad brought out a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. I remember so clearly from childhood that if we had a bar of Cadbury chocolate and “hedgehog” bread it meant Dad had a little extra money left over that week.

 

We did this so often that it became our routine whenever we had the money for chocolate. We all shared the chocolate equally between the four of us while chatting and then when the chocolate had all gone we rolled up the foil wrapper and threw it around the room at each other; diving over sofas, ducking behind chairs, using feet, arms, heads, flicking the wrapper we were laughing so hard and for so long it was true happy family time.

 

When I was at University in London I walked around Camden showing my Sister and her Boyfriend my favourite area of London. I stopped at a palm reader on the corner of a street. It was five pounds for a single palm reading so I went for it.

 

I was eighteen years old, completely fresh to London and filling my days at University with dance and drama (Performing Arts being my subject). When I sat with the palm reader she asked me to not respond or speak, simply listen.

 

She told me that I surround myself with negative people; that whenever I get a little bit higher there is always someone waiting there ready to knock me straight back down again. She told me I am not good with money, and I never will be. She told me I will find Mr Right, but I will hesitate, and he will walk straight past. But she told me I have a lot of Hope. She said that I am filled with Hope.

How I could be full of hope after this conversation escapes me a little but rather than seeing this as my fate, I viewed it as a warning of how my life could become unless I acted now. Possibly my Hope talking.

 

Over the next few years I would try to look at my friendships and see who my friends actually were. Because of this I have lost contact with many people, but the ones still in my life, oh my gosh I love them. My incredible friends like S, my high school best friend that stood by me, and continues to stand by me, during every good and every single bad moment. When the heat is on she is stood next to me, and when the chips are down she’s always there for me. My wonderful friend Chunk (his nickname since his childhood that no longer applies given that he is a walking muscle-machine now but he’s still ‘Chunk’), who, when the drama surrounding my friend B’s relationship ending erupted to gigantic proportions a few weeks after my own long-term relationship break-up, met me for coffee and asked me what happened; I instantly began the story of our mutual friend B only to be interrupted with “No, it was obvious they were never going to work, I’m asking about you. How are you? Are you ok?” I had forgotten my own break-up was in anyone but my own mind until he said that to me; I didn’t think anyone was interested since all I was being asked about around then was regarding B. I cried in his arms as I told him how unhappy I had been in the relationship and how much I tried to change myself so that I wouldn’t be yelled at by my ex or his family any more but I couldn’t live like that, so after three years I left. I was devastated and was still getting used to sleeping alone, no longer having my phone filled with “I love you” messages, and not having the same routine after work of dinner and cuddles on the sofa. I was incredibly lonely and trying to hide it to help others deal with B’s dilemma.

 

My trip was meant to be six months and then I return to England on January 4th 2014 with new experiences, bad hair, covered in travelling tattoos, a strange accent and my head and heart ready to enjoy the new adventure of settling my twenty-six year old self down. I spent three months of my travelling time thinking of how perfect my life would be when I returned to the arms of My American in January. Instead I flew to Hawaii rather than home for my three week break where I had planned to meet up with My American until his work commitments and his own thoughts on our new long-distance relationship meant that he didn’t want me to change my plans to meet him.

 

While in Maui with my newest closest friend from travelling, my San Diego roommate from Germany, she asked me to join her in travelling around Australia for a year. I had known LF for two weeks. I thought about My American. I thought about the fact I had told him about my eating issues and a week later he had told me not to return to England to meet him. I thought about how much money I had left, how much I would need for Australia, how much a flight would be, how much I would need to continue my trip around America and if I would then have enough to travel to Australia with the $5,000 the Australian Government require you to have before entering the country on the Work and Travel Visa. I thought about everywhere I still wanted to see in America and about everything I wanted to do when I got home. All I had wanted to do was settle down. Close this chapter on my American Dream and meet My American in London. I weighed everything up; thinking of my bank balance in my head, converting it to pounds, then US Dollars, then Australian Dollars, what would happen if I went back to England and My American didn’t want me. What would I regret? Not going back? Or not going to Australia when given the chance to?

 

I had two cards in my hands; continue the original plan and return to England whether My American wanted me or not. Or try Australia knowing that My American didn’t want me right now so there was every possibility he wouldn’t in two months when I got back. More time away from me meant less time wanting to be with me.

 

I said yes.

 

I cut a month off my original trip around America as I couldn’t afford to enter Australia with less than the $5,000 the Government stated, and the extra month in America would eat into that money too much. I wrote on my social media page my newest plan; hoping My American would message me. Instead I messaged him. I told him the new plan and he gave me no indication of his feelings towards it. Was he sad I wasn’t returning? Was he happy I was the one that made it easier to let go? Was he even wanting me to talk to him? I had no clue.

 

I didn’t book my flight until three days before I left New Orleans on the plane to Australia. One month after I messaged My American.

 

Looking back now I wish that I had spoken to him properly before I made any decisions. He isn’t a mind reader and neither am I. If I had the same chance now I would ask how he felt towards me and if he saw us with a future. I would tell him the only reason I’m considering leaving is because I can’t face going back and him not wanting me. Instead I just left.

 

Now I have been in Australia for two months and last week I booked a one-way flight back to London leaving in two weeks. During a conversation in the annex of our house at 4am I cried to LF as I said that I can’t stay here thinking of him each day and wondering if there’s any way we are meant to be together. I needed to go back and meet him. I messed up by not returning in January and I needed to tell him, if only to clear my head.

 

I battled the decision whether to tell him I am coming home or to wait until I was back and see if he wanted to meet. I told him. And now I wish I hadn’t booked the flight. He doesn’t want to meet me; it’s too late. He’s moved on.

 

Today I got offered a job in Australia, after reading an email from a job I applied for in England asking me to call them to discuss the position. I called my sister and told her I have two paths in front of me; one I know, one I don’t.

 

If I go home I work in an office again. I excitedly see my friends and family for the first few weeks, and then I am working in the office. I don’t meet My American because he doesn’t want to meet me, and I am exactly where I was a year ago.

Or I stay here. I work the job I’ve never had before in a company that has stated that team building exercises consist of paintballing and go-karting trips, that they already have a team lined up for me that they want me to work with, and that the two weeks I have planned to return to England (as I only stated I would be away for two weeks) is not a problem, they will have me join the team before I leave and work as normal as soon as I return after the two weeks.

 

Seems like an easy choice.

 

My head wants me to travel, to explore, become the Me I am perhaps meant to be. But my heart is devastated. I wanted a life with him. I fell in love with the possibilities. With everything it could have been, and I held on to that for six months, daily.

 

If you are half as sick of reading about My American as I am tired of thinking of him and every mistake I made then I apologise. My head knows I need to let this go but my hope won’t be silenced yet. I believe I met my Mr Right, and I hesitated to meet up with him before I left for America, and now he has walked past the thought of us. My friends here and while travelling have told me that my Mr Right won’t walk straight past. My Mr Right will want to meet me, be with me, do anything to have my heart and me in his busy life.

I hope so much that this is true.

Trying to close the chapter

xxHBxx

Melbourne, AustraliaWaimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

Acceptance and Healing

Yesterday I spent my evening with one of the best friends I made travelling in San Diego. J lives in Melbourne around the corner from where I am living. Since the day I met him I have I adored him as my friend for life.

J and I walked along the beautiful river that is across my street and viewable from my house. We walked and chatted for around an hour about anything and everything. While walking we discovered some gym equipment that has been placed by the running lanes in a mini Muscle Beach attempt. After testing it out for a while we carried on walking and talking.

We had already been talking about fitness when we came across the impromptu gym. J has recently embarked on a new health and fitness routine since gaining weight in America during his travels. He talked about how he was in the best shape of his life before heading to Canada and America for his six months away from Australia, but had known and accepted that he would gain weight during his trip and would just deal with it when he got back.

I talked about how I was in the best physical shape of my life before I left for America also, J already knowing of my eating disorder we discussed my gym routine. After playing on the leg-press during our walk I expressed that the leg-press is my favourite piece of equipment at the gym; I always leave it for last as my grand finale. I told J how I had built up my strength from being able to push 40kg at the beginning of my training to pushing 100kg just before I flew to America. My routine being ten reps of 40kg, then ten of 50kg, then ten 60kg, ten 70kg, ten 80kg, ten 90kg, and finally ten 100kg in one sitting. Since dancing my legs have always been my strongest, with my upper body strength being embarrassing in comparison.

Before I travelled I was at the gym every day, and ran 5 miles in the countryside every few days – weather depending. Part of this was my eating disorder, I needed a visible physical reward for my lack of eating and something to stave off the effects of the occasional 6,000 calorie binge.

While talking to J about the gym, my old routine, and how I felt in my body – ignoring my eating disorder and simply thinking of the physical feeling after the gym – I realised how much I missed it. I became passionate about exercise as I was talking to him. We both did. Walking around the river, chain-smoking as we walked, I remembered our bike ride in San Diego where I was prompted to quit smoking for a month due to one particular monster of a hill that made me walk my bike to the top while believing my lungs we about to explode with every breath. I realised my smoking will have to be replaced with my E-Cigarette a friend got me in San Diego if I want my gym routine back.

Today I felt ill and spent the day happily on the couch drinking concoctions my roommates told me would cure me and found myself looking at old photos from last year. I was struck with how beautiful I looked. The photos I have focused on over the last five months have been during my eating disorder. Instead today I looked before my eating disorder. I looked at the months before my break-up.

As I saw photos with my ex who I had been with for three years I felt sadly and knowingly nothing.

As I continued looking at photos I came across the ‘out-takes’ from my camera practice shoot with A from two months before my break-up in 2012. At the time I was my normal weight, I had no eating issues in the slightest, and I looked beautiful. I hadn’t seen it at the time.

I remember the shoot so clearly. I was so unbelievably nervous that I was physically shaking. A kept telling me I was beautiful but nothing worked to calm me down. I had a camera in my face, inches away from me, and I was shaking. She positioned me leaning against a wall to calm my shakes but it wasn’t until I asked if I could climb her garden tree that I began to calm myself slightly. Taking photos of my climbing and laughing I went as high as she would let me then allowed her to take my photo.

Climbing trees has always calmed me since childhood, I hadn’t realised this until this day happened and I looked back on certain memories of me climbing trees. It was my known calmer.

In fact my first kiss with my ex was in a tree. It was the first time he had ever climbed a tree which should have been an indicator of his upbringing however I simply encouraged him to go higher and calmed him as he panicked about how we would get down; “Don’t worry about getting down until we have to get down!”

After I had climbed the tree I then danced in her yard. Taking photos of me dancing I relaxed until I realised she had taken photos of my face; I had thought she was taking them of my dancing. She captured my face as I danced, which I had never seen of myself even when I was a dancer. My body was always in focus back then, not my face.

When I was thirteen years old the boy I loved in High School (a boy that has owned a large slice of my heart since the first day I saw him) told me a few words I don’t think I will ever forget. When we were seventeen and in a relationship he apologised profusely for saying them to me and I believed him, however the damage had been done unfortunately, as much as I know he doesn’t believe these words now, he did then.

“You’re not ugly, you’re just not very pretty.”

As a thirteen year old this was the first time my looks had ever been presented to me. I was not aware of how I looked to others until this sentence was said to me. There we no others around, I couldn’t put it down to childhood bullying, it was simply a private intimate conversation with my High School love, and he told his truth about why he didn’t want to be with me.

Since that day I have questioned the way I look so much that I have no idea how I look now, to others especially, but to myself also.

When I told my sister about my eating disorder the month before I flew to America she sweetly said “I don’t know why you don’t know how beautiful you are. I don’t have any body issues but I’ve always preferred your body to mine.”

While talking to C last year about our previous relationship that we had been in five years beforehand he said to me “I don’t think you realised how beautiful you were, I still don’t think you do.” Trying not to cry as I heard this he simply kissed my head and held his arm tightly around me while I let that sentence sink into me.

As I looked through my old photos today I began to realise how beautiful I am.

I do not under any circumstance say this with arrogance, ego, or smugly. We are all beautiful. I had never seen my beauty.

I do not know how others view me, however I am starting to view myself differently.

Yesterday I enjoyed my first real meal since I left England; a homemade vegan curry completely full of green leafy vegetables and technically a portion for two people, with bread rolls instead of rice (as I never have rice with curry – rice for me is sushi or risotto). It was healthy. I was full but not in pain. I felt good.

Today I made my first real lunch since England; a huge salad with spinach, avocado, tofu, and others. I felt healthily full and satisfied.

Before my eating issues began I had other confidence issues; I did not in any way believe I was pretty or beautiful. One female friend at sixteen had told me I was “attractive, but not pretty” a notion that contributed to my believing guys only wanted to sleep with me rather than date me because I’m not pretty enough to date, but attractive enough to sleep with. I am always on-guard for this. In fact it was this exact reason why I did not meet My American the week before I flew to America. I was petrified he only saw me this way, and so I did not meet him. Knowing him the way I do now this has been added as one of my only three regrets in my life. A moment I can never get back.

Looking at my photos I am starting to silence the old voices that nagged me and accept how I look; and I am beginning to see this is not the negative acceptance it was before.

A few days ago I asked My American what his reaction or thoughts had been when I initially told him about my eating issues. It took me four minutes to stop crying enough to reply to his message.

“No it didn’t phase me. I was sad for you, it sounded hard. My heart went out to you. I’ve had my own demons. No judgement.”

Reading those words after I nail-bitingly asked my personal question, not knowing if he would even reply, I burst into audible sobs.

The relief.

It was a weight lifting off my shoulders that I realised I had placed on my own shoulders in the first instance. I had spent the last two months believing he didn’t want to meet me because I wasn’t as perfect as I had first appeared.

He may not know how thankful I am that I met him, but that revelation has helped clear my mind more than he may have cared it to.

Step by step I will get there.

Full of eternal Hope

xxHBxx

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Different me

“Hopeless Romantic has been unleashed, sick bucket recommended.”

A year ago I decided to simplify my life and remain single. I ended my relationship with C and began vigorously planning my trip around America.

I then met a man online accidentally who changed everything more than he’ll know.

I had planned to briefly leave my American adventure for him and go to him in England when I returned in January. One flippant comment made by me in Colorado changed the relationship that I hadn’t seen coming.

The person I was when I left England is a very different version to the one typing now. I have only been traveling for five months but can see, in photos and in my self, how different I have become. Five months ago I was only what I had seen and known, I still am only this but the change is I have seen and know more. Much more than I could’ve dreamt. Back in England I was narrow minded. I had limited knowledge of experience and had been so involved in overcoming my own obstacles that I was engulfed by that for too long.

My narrow minded self had only experienced drugs, for example, in seedy University parties during my time at London where my friends were uncontrollably high on whichever drug of choice it was that night and I then spent the remainder of the night trying to make sure they didn’t OD, pass out or hurt themselves. Looking back now this was University. They did the same with me when my eighteen year old self drank too much tequila.

My flippant comment to My American (as he shall be known here) was regarding drugs. I was barely two months into my trip and had just arrived in the first place of my trip where marijuana is legal. Being a complete tourist I took photos of all the Medical Marijuana Stations and posted them on my social media site. My American sent me a jokey message asking if I was getting “baked” in Colorado, my response stated that I hate drugs and am the worst person to be in a “drugs are legal” State. Had I been asked that question now my response would still be no, but would contain less single-minded tones.

When I read my old messages back, as I have done a lot in this trip, I always think of how I would respond if given those messages now.

When I left Colorado I went straight to California. I started in San Francisco and worked my way down to San Diego. I changed the most in San Diego. Suddenly I was surrounded by drugs on a daily basis by every type of person you could imagine. My first encounter was at the weekly beach bonfire. Locals and travelers all huddled together by the fire, singing along to the guys on guitar and the one guy who made an impromptu drum set with trash cans, were sharing stories along with splifs, pipes, cigarettes, beer and blankets. I had never seen anything like it. I watched as everyone made friends with whoever was near them, some smoking some choosing to pass, all joining in the chorus we all knew then continuing with our stories. Up until that moment marijuana had been a seedy back alley, a hidden hideaway in a dark loud central London nightclub (back when smoking indoors was legal), it had been Amy Winehouse (who I had been stood behind in a North London club restroom when I was eighteen and was the highest I had ever seen anyone) – the celebrity version, not the talented musician version. I had only seen drugs with “wasters” and had only seen extremes. My friend telling me she thought she was dying as she turned white and began shaking after taking a pill she wanted me to take with her at a University party, another friend grinding his teeth so hard I could hear it as he sweat profusely and rolled his eyes back towards his head after a party, listening to a University drug-deal going bad outside my friend’s room as she told me to pretend we were asleep. My experiences of drugs had been this. So when My American asked me if I was getting stoned here I instantly jumped back to my only drug-related memories and went on the defensive; mostly because I never wanted him to think of me in the only way I had experienced drugs, not knowing any alternative.

In San Diego I became friends with one guy whose job is making glass bongs. I met him at that first beach bonfire and had initially not wanted to even speak to him. The more time I spent in San Diego the more I saw and the less I cared. That guy became a good friend to me and on my first day back in San Diego from my three week break in Hawaii, took me to my favourite burger place where we caught up on what I had missed over the three weeks and ate veggie burgers together (his with bacon) in the funky bus seat of the unique burger bar.

Having now experienced drugs in a more social manner I understand My American’s worry over my initial prejudice a few months ago.
I had never known them in the way that he does; the Californian way. To me they had only ever really been experienced with negative consequences.

I still do not smoke marijuana or take drugs, I doubt that will change, however my attitude towards them has. I also don’t drink vodka, but I don’t care if others do.

Five months ago I didn’t drink whiskey (I now love whiskey and cream soda – discovered at a college party in Baton Rouge, Louisiana), I didn’t drink red wine, I did drink soy milk and loved peanut butter (now hated), I couldn’t surf (…well this one’s debatable depending on the other’s prospective but when I’m telling the story yes I can surf), I had a deep fear of heights and insects, rarely smoked, and had predominantly male friends. These may not be strides and they may not be huge to some, but to me they all add up to the woman typing today. Five months and a lot of learning. Learning only I could do by seeing and experiencing everything that I have. It would be impossible to go back to England the girl I was when I left; she has lived too much to ever be her again.

I am now a day away from flying to Australia.

I flew to Hawaii initially to ‘get over’ My American rather than flying back to England to be with him; that didn’t work. I still think of him each day and am devastated that we can’t be what we might’ve been. However I am the embodiment of Hope. Hope that we are in each other’s futures, whenever the time is right. I’m not the woman for him yet, and he’s too much of the man he is for me right now. I have more to live until I will be quite ready. I just hope he can, and wants to, wait.

Perhaps five months from now I am writing that I flew to England to see him, or he flew to Australia and we met. Perhaps I am writing that he is engaged to another. And maybe I am writing that we are still in the same position, waiting for our time.

All I know is since meeting him everything with him felt right. I never had that pure feeling with anyone else. It could be just another lesson I will learn and look back on but I truly hope it’s not. Before him I had never even thought of creating a family, in fact I expressed strongly to my ex that I would not have children and never wanted to marry – a statement I had carried since my parent’s divorce when I was three years old.

I am now going to Australia for a year, initially, returning to America for Christmas next year. I will then potentially return to Australia for a further year, but we will see how I go.

A few months ago I was talking with My American about moving in with him when I return to England in January. Two months after we began cooling off our communication together I am moving further away. I do wonder if he knows the impact he has had on my choices, or if he just thinks I am a runaway or even if he thinks of me at all. Either way, had he told me that he still wanted me to move in with him when I was to originally return in January I would not have applied for my Australian Visa, bought my ticket from New Orleans to Melbourne, and found my house. I would’ve been with him in a heartbeat. Part of me still would.

Time is my best friend and worst enemy. But I’m using my time to experience, and that is never time wasted.

Hopeless Romantic unleashed and on the loose…last seen headed for Australia…

xxHBxx

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