Its’ probably about time I started writing some more updates. I feel like the last six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, but not the really exciting type, more the kind where you’re waiting in line for five hours, only to be told when you get to the front that it’s closed, and you have to come back another day.
My first week off work since December has given me ample time to reflect on what is important to me, what I want in life, and most importantly, what direction I want to go. Yes, I have taken the job in Bristol that keeps me there 9-5 each day, but after three years being poor in Tanzania, and loving every moment, few could have guessed that I would come back and be a manager, be doing quite well, and be enjoying it so much. This is, however, the reality I face, and one which I was not prepared for.
Soul searching aside, I have huge disappointments in myself in how I have returned and just floundered socially. I feel like my life has stopped, like I was on pause for six months, and only really getting out into Europe on my own with my laptop do I finally feel alive once more. Maybe as a result of my time abroad, maybe just because I am loose footed, but I am one to be out and about, the life I seem to have lived in the last six months is not me, it’s not making me happy, it’s just a job I’m good at and a bed to sleep in. That’s not discounting the money it’s bringing in! If it wasn’t for my job, I would not be able to afford to take these two weeks off and put everything on hold.
I think about Tanzania all the time. I think about my plans to put on a festival out in Zanzibar, and it’s almost cringe-worthy the full about face that I’ve done to myself. Truth is, I was killing myself slowly out there, living on the edge of what I could cope with financially and politically, and returning to the UK with my tail between my legs was the only option for continued survival.
And that’s basically it, I feel like I’ve sold out. Up to a point. A few weeks ago, I made the final plunge to remove myself from Facebook, and have decided to only push out updates via my blog, in person, and via email. At that moment, I had a flurry of communication from old friends, and that lead me to buy an InterRail ticket and make my way down to Bucharest in Romania. A good friend I met in Tanzania lives there, and after a lovely weekend hanging out with her, I’m now on my return leg, enjoying a coffee outside the National Theatre in Timisoara, south west Romania. This afternoon I get up to Budapest for dinner, then on to Vienna for a few drinks and bed. Tomorrow morning I will grab a cross country train down through the mountains, to a place called Klagenfurt, then carry on into Italy and to Venice. This is where the romance of life will come alive, and from there, after a nights’ stay out floating in the Italian Romantic heartland, I get another train across northern Italy to Monaco. I hope to be able to find an expensive coffee at Casino Square, take a walk from there all the way down to the tunnel, along the swimming pool complex to the Rasse-Casse hairpin and back up along the start-finish straight and into the principality for a late lunch. This has always been a dream of mine to go to Monte Carlo, and although I missed the Formula One race, it won’t dampen my enthusiasm for walking the race track that I have watched my heroes race on for my entire life. Unfortunately, prices forbid me from staying the night, but I do have a room in Nice, just a short ride away along the French Riviera. The romance doesn’t stop there, as I then get the high speed train up to Paris for dinner, and finally back to Amsterdam for a well-deserved rest. That’s a sentence most people will not have heard… going to Amsterdam for a rest! Those of you who know me will also be glad to hear I have finally shaken the need to smoke weed all the time, and the ultimate test will be a weekend in Amsterdam avoiding it. If my brother can do it, then so can I, and I really need this for the sake of my future and those around me.
So I’ve just been in Bucharest with Elin. She, like me, had plans to get back to Tanzania, indeed, she has all the more reason to do so as her boyfriend is still there, and any hope of him coming to Europe on a regular basis have been flattened with the sheer complication of Africans coming to Europe and how expensive it is for them: she had to pay for it. It’s not the type of thing that she can afford to do more than once a year for him, and in the mean-time, her returning to Tanzania is reliant on a job being made for her and some security in visa applications and salary.
Just one year ago, I was making a home in the forest. I was raising my little gang of puppies to be the Marangu Barmy Army, and was decorating and making the house a beautiful place for us all to live. That was before it all went so horribly wrong. Moving into Moshi seemed like the right idea at the time, but in reality I needed to come back to Europe and start again. The opportunity to make money, reboot and refresh myself was taken and now I’m out again, and feel so alive.
The journey down to Bucharest was a bit crazy, after spending my birthday with my brother in Holland, I took a train that was supposed to get me to Bucharest over night. Those hopes were dashed when on leaving Amsterdam we were over half an hour late and I missed my connection to Vienna. I finally got to Munich, and have some advice for anyone travelling in Europe: if you need to complain, do it in Germany! The very nice lady in the train station told me that if I needed to get to Bucharest, and had the cash on me now to do it, that compensation would come my way, so I headed to Vienna, got really drunk and booked a flight. This was in itself a bit of a nightmare, as it seems my body wasn’t ready for this alcoholic onslaught, and I was incredibly sick, in the queue to check my baggage in, again in the queue to get through security, and then used all three sick bags in my row on the plane itself. An experience to say the least, but I made it to Bucharest in time for Elin and I to have a gorgeous meal out in the old town and enjoy a full weekend together drinking and eating our way around the city. A few more days on the road, or rather rails, and I will be back home, wishing I could do it all again, and that’s the beauty of life: I can, and will. Each day is just an adventure waiting to happen, and the day I stop seeing it like that is the day I settle down and become a boring fart. I had huge fears this was already happening to me, but luckily, and with the help of some good friends, I am back to being Craig again. Perhaps I’m lucky enough to see how it happens in myself before it gets too late, but in any case, for anyone out there who enjoys reading other’s misfortunes, let it be known, I got dangerously close to giving in to laziness and just working to live and living to work. There is more to life than that trust me.
Next Monday back in the office will be a harsh reminder of what I was running away from in the first place. I have been keeping an eye on my work emails, and I have to say that when I remove myself from the office, I really couldn’t care less about our clients’ computer problems or whether we are doing the right thing for them each day. In reality however, why should I? It is not my company, I have no shares, and I know for certain that if they didn’t want me there, they’d get rid of me. The truth is, I believe I’m doing a good job, and most days I am busy and thrive on it. Finding the right work-life balance is perhaps the key to surviving the modern world intact, and one thing I’ve learnt for myself is that I am in control of my future, not anyone else, and if you don’t have a goal to work towards, then nobody else will do it for you. The possibilities for me moving onwards and upwards in the company are huge, but they need to be balanced by what that will ultimately offer me, and whether I will benefit from it. Perhaps that seems a little selfish, but at the end of the day, I have to face myself in the mirror and get on with my life each day. No matter how good the job is, one day it may disappear, or I may disappear, and until I feel like I will benefit directly from the company’s success above my own salary, they get their 9-5 from me, and then I go back to being Craig again. Above and beyond should work in both directions, yet our salary is fixed. Go figure.
Another gorgeous eastern European woman has just brought me my second Cappuccino of the morning, and smiled at me. This is her bar, I have overheard her conversation with her neighbouring cafes and see that this is her life blood. The effort she has put in to making this a pleasant place for people like me to drink coffee and watch the world go by is obviously her own ideal of how she wants her life to go, the décor and music around me prove that. I have no intention of doing anything more than being a tourist in this city today, and she is treating me like that. It’s a mutual understanding that I think I finally accept, and I believe the world will be better when we all realise what we can be in life, and don’t become anything that we don’t want to be.
Employment law in most countries mean that the company you work for hold all the cards, but have a think about this for a moment, what if it was the other way around, and the companies were created to give us the money we need, not that we work to make the money for them? This is my dream, and I’m working on making it my own reality, and when it happens, you’ll all know about it.