Out of Office / Out of My Mind

I am away. Out of Office. Yet compelled to write.

I read a lot when I go away. I’m in an Agatha Christie zone at the moment, so much so that I’m living a kind of weird half life as an 85 year old sleuther I’m not sure that A. my 32 year old companion appreciates being on holiday with this weird hybrid, especially as I am not that cool as my 36 year old self. In all honesty I think Miss Marple has me pipped to the post in most departments but as Cava is 3 Euros a bottle; I’m not sure any of us are actually worrying.

To give myself and A. a break I decided to give Lena Dunham “Not that kind of Girl” a go. It has been downloaded and forgotten on my iPad for 2 years now. It’s eye opening, especially to the 85 year old in me. I am intimidated. I’m about half way through it. So far I’m wondering if everyone who is raised in NYC, grows up at light speed, if that’s a good thing and pondering whether I should (while simultaneously being relieved that I don’t) have more/any weird sex stories.

Plus there’s her huge talent for writing, directing and acting. Plus there’s her age. I am intimidated.

It’s dangerous reading, which is probably why it’s taken me 2 years to get to. It’s dangerous because as anyone who’s be eyeballing up their existences knows, when faced with the achievements of those younger than yourself, you can easily feel you’ve made all the wrong choices about all the wrong things. That time is marching on and you are none the wiser about who you are and whether you are remotely on the right path.

You can feel at ease one day, that this is the way everyone feels and the next you feel oh so foolish that you didn’t have the balls to write about it when you were 25. That it’s taken you a full decade longer to be even a little bit comfortable with expressing yourself or thinking that the way you form sentences isn’t just the way that everyone else does, so why bother doing it?

I like articles that tell me that 40 is the new 30, mainly because I feel like I turned 30 and then hit pause, every birthday since I’ve blown out my candles and wished, really WISHED that some semblance of a normal year would follow. Every New Year’s I’d baptise myself in fizzing bubbles meaning to wipe the slate clean and start again shine and new (sidenote: waking up with a hangover doesn’t really work with this symbolic gesture, you feel rusty before you begin).

Then someone would die, have a breakdown, break my heart or get cancer (mostly me) and normal would seem like a unicorn in a tutu. Then life would be about ‘getting through’ or ‘surviving’ and whining about it on this here little blog and I’d put off for another year the actual things that make you a grown up, which nobody can explain but I feel that I’ve yet to achieve.

Then last November I blew out my candles and wished for a quiet year but this time I got it and I’ve spent many hours since trying to create the drama that seems more normal to me. Like a sailor who still sleeps in a hammock while she/he’s on shore leave. High stakes and heightened emotions feel like my norm, cold turkey seems so much greyer than I predicted.

It’s not just big dramas either, take this holiday. I refused to pack until about an hour before we departed. It’s weird.

So now I sit here in our little piece of heaven for a week in a sort of lovely duel solitary confinement – we have a pool, sun loungers and a BBQ, we really don’t need to see anyone else and it’s like the sun is actually drying me out, mellowing me out.

Until I pick up Ms Dunham’s book and come face to face with everything I am not. My drama addicted brain starts pushing my buttons and I’m twitchy and spoiling for something I can’t quite put my finger on. Then I turn the page and learn that she is frightened of dying and of cancer. And suddenly I can’t relate but in a totally different way. So I go back to Agatha Christie and watch my scars, both inside and out, turn golden (under a heavy layer of factor 50) in the sun.