For someone who loves being on the move and always planning the next adventure, the enforced stillness of the last year and a half has been rather strange.
In the last ten years, I have rarely stayed in one place for more than six months and never for longer than twelve. And even when I was still, there was always a plan in place, another destination in mind, another plane ticket waiting to be bought.
So these eighteen months of stationary life have been… different. It’s been challenging at times, downright claustrophobic at others. I have been restless and irritable and fantasised endlessly about booking flights and running away. My rucksack (his name’s Hank) has rebuked me for my inactivity, glaring down at me from his forlorn perch atop the wardrobe. My passport has grown sulky in a drawer, unimpressed at being used only for petty bureaucracies rather than the giddy enjoyment of travel.
I’ve missed the heat of the sun and the sensations of sand and saltwater upon my skin. I’ve craved ripe mangoes and fresh seafood bought from a market stall and cold beer drunk in a hammock. I have dreamed of snorkelling with turtles in a warm sea, only to wake to the grey present, the chill of the here and now. Instead of dressing in jewel toned swimwear and loose cotton dresses, I have been pulling on thick socks, jogging bottoms and extra jumpers. Scrolling through my old photos and adding guidebooks to my amazon wish list have become my new hobbies.
But, my languor and longing aside, I don’t pretend that I’ve had it hard. I’ve been fortunate in my pandemic experience. In fact, for someone who has been rootlessly wandering for the best part of a decade, I miraculously found myself in the best place I could be right when the world fell apart.
I was staying with family, who continued to put me up without (audible) complaint through the year of lockdowns and uncertainty. I got to spend the time with my nephews and get to know them after previously not seeing them from one year to the next. Their antics filled the endless days, and the joys of homeschooling gave our confinement a much-needed sense of purpose.
I had some savings, enough that I could last the year without much worry. And my unfettered existence meant that I had no responsibilities or material concerns. I have not had to fear for my house or job. I have not struggled with car payments or loans or been uncertain for the future of my business as so many of my friends have. And I have not been ill, my family has not been ill, I have not lost loved ones, and I know that in this, as in many other ways, I am incredibly lucky.
And there has been an unforeseen positive for me in this universal grounding. Since I have been unable to run ever onwards to my next destination, I have instead had the chance to embark upon plans that I have been putting off for years. To begin working towards the job that I can now say that I hold, full-time travel writer!
This was always the plan, although it was really more of a vague hope, that I would one day make writing my full-time job. But that dream was always off in the unknown future, existing somewhere beyond the hospitality roles I kept taking for ‘real work’. And there never seemed to be enough time to start. But, with the hospitality industry closed and me unable to leave the house, let alone find a job, I suddenly had that time. I had endless days of time, plus a laptop, a wifi connection and no excuse not to make a start.
So I started. And to my slight surprise, I am succeeding. So this, the first blog post of my new portfolio website (thanks JT), is a not-so-humble brag to tell you that I’m doing it. I am officially, successfully, making a living as a travel writer! I am being paid to write about my travels, to relive my memories of far-flung places, sun drenched beaches, and vibrant cities. It’s the next best thing to being back on my travels again.
So despite how horribly hard this year has been, I am choosing to be grateful for the time it has given me. For forcing me to stay still long enough to get organised, get my act together, and get started on this dream job.
However… that gratitude only goes so far, and really, I could do with the rules being lifted now. I mean, I’m a travel writer! I need to get back out there and research new material!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I hope you enjoyed it.
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Every drop helps!