Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Return


Well, I'm back. Not without a little trouble I might say, 24 hours later than planned. I seem to have left one snowy landscape and re-found another. As I sit at N's desk in the window (I couldn't face my messy, tiny, viewless office today) I'm looking out at an altogether less benign landscape to the one I last described. All is white - white fields, white sky, white lanes and a harsh northerly wind is whipping up mists of whirling snow like spray off a windswept sea. If I'd been in the mountains skiing I would be finding shelter in the warmth of a vin chaud and cosy restaurant by now. Instead I am in a cold house, hunched against the elements, the detritus of Christmas washing around my ankles and confusing my mind and emotions. I have done so much in the last two weeks that it was weird to return last night to a home abandoned on December 27th, the adornments of that festive family time a strong reminder of that happy week which had receded while away into some strangely distant memory. Now here I am again, forced to unravel the chaos we left behind as we shut the door barely two weeks ago, yet feeling like a lifetime.

Those who travel will recognise this sense of time suspended. You leave with expectations and excitement, you return with a mind full of images and a heart full of experiences. They adjust your vision, they confuse your emotions, they enrich your life. The return that stands out most in my memory is coming back from Delhi. I had been on a short press trip in the long ago days when I was young and worked in travel PR. The intensity of what I had lived in the labyrinthine streets of old Delhi will stay with me forever as anyone who has ever visited India will understand. A mesmerising maze of passageways teeming with life in all its forms - a life so extraordinarily different to our own. Dark boney figures with ivory eyes and dusty clothes crouched beside piles of rice and spices, vegetables and meat, watching wordless as you pass, as alien to them as they to us. Pushbikes and tuk-tuks swerving to avoid people and cows, a cacophany of sound, an assault on the senses, an extraordinary world where life throbs and is reduced to the barest minimum. The night I got back I went straight to a party in Fulham, west London, with a load of mates I'd met on a big ski trip. We'd been having a ball ever since we'd got back from the holiday - endless get-togethers, drinking and dancing. But that night my mind was full of other images, more real and essential than the place I now found myself. I stayed a while but it didn't quite fit that night. I left soon after, taking my suitcase of experiences with me, to allow them to settle themselves into my soul and psyche in quieter circumstances. I needed time to adjust.

So here I am now, trying to adjust again, though less dramatically it's true. From windswept beach to snowy mountain; from snowy mountain to snowy peak; from fun and friendship to lonely domestic chores. N is back at work: the girls are back at school. Just me and the cat, a pile of washing, a heap of happy memories and the view. The stuff of life - my life.

13 comments:

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Your writing is very descriptive. Your depiction of the streets of Delhi made me feel like I was there.

I know very well the feeling you describe - the strangeness of returning home after a long trip and finding everything just as it was, like a moment frozen in time. It takes awhile to adjust and absorb the experience of the trip.

But it's always good to be home.

pippa said...

Just back from a month in Bali Carah - can sympathise! 35 degree difference in temp! Catch you soon. xx

Pondside said...

You've described it so well - that suspended feeling one has on returning from away. Of course this year, from what I read, the return must have been complicated by the abnormal weather. Good luck coming back down to earth!

Catharine Withenay said...

Happy New Year!
I always love your writing. It evokes such perfect pictures, and that feeling of being suspended from reality at an affluent Western party after travel to a poor nation is horribly familiar. Also the loneliness as routine returns, the daily drudgery of existence.

I hope the snow is clearing a little ... and that you settle back home quickly.

Mark said...

Well I'm glad you're back. So well written as usual, makes me envious.

Alex said...

LOVING the blog! So beautifully written and a wonderful reminder of a great week in Meribel (despite, as you say, the extended journey home!) I'm still trying to get my head around 4 adults having a superb french meal in the middle of grenoble oblivious to the kids lying fast asleep on the sofas! Couldn't have planned a better final 'last' night! You're both wonderful company and we look forward to seeing you again hopefully before too long. xx

HER ON THE HILL said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments.

Jeff - Hi, and yes it's always good to be home.

Pippa - yes, that's one helluva contrast, I feel for you!! Hope you had a lovely time. xx

Pondside - indeed return was complicated! Writing about that next...

Catherine - thank you and HNY to you too! Indeed, you must know the feeling well given where you used to live...

Mark - good to hear from you and thanks, as ever, for your kindness.

Alex - Hi! Great to see you here and thanks so much for commenting. Glad you're enjoying it! Am in the process of writing about our return journey...! Doesn't take away from what a great hol it was though - and thank YOU for your wonderful company too :-) Hope to see you again before too long. xx

Cait O'Connor said...

It's a bit like an anti-climax isn't it? One has to readjust get the energies re-tuned in somehow. It usually happens quicker than we think it will.

cheshire wife said...

Your really know that the holiday is over and you are back down to earth when you arrive to our cold and often miserable climate, whatever time of year it is.

A Happy New Year to you!

elizabethm said...

Well I am very glad you are back and sympathise utterly with the cold house - ours is toasty in the sitting room but chill elsewhere. I was asked tonight whether I was tempted to move into the holiday cottage which is lovely and snug. I probably won't but the idea is quite attractive when the huge slate slabs on the kitchen floor strike cold through my two pairs of socks. Welcome home!

Nutty Gnome said...

Your description of Delhi took me straight back 23 years (*gulp*) to the year we spent travelling in Asia and the chaos that is Delhi - I could practically smell, hear and feel the city again as I read your words ...thanks for rekindling some wonderful memories as well as sharing your own!

Hope your house has warmed up a bit now and you're starting to feel a bit more centred.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi. An experiment. Hope you dont mind me sending visitors to your excellent blog on the 16th January.

Working Mum said...

That's one snowy landscape you returned home to! How beautifully you described that odd feeling of returning home from holiday and fitting back into normal life having acquired new experiences.

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