The Crucible of Chaos

What day is this being written on? I am aware it is sometime in November but beyond that I have no idea. I’ve discussed the malleability of time at length, but it continues to amaze me. Particularly here in Salisbuty, when the night is fully stretched out by 5:30pm, and we have little on our daily agendas.

We’re coming to the end of a slower week in Salisbury, the longest I’ve been anywhere since Florence. I left Florence about 21 days ago, and that already feels like a far-distant memory, a symptom of leading a life of organized chaos. This trip has hammered home the old adage that “the only constant is change”. Less than two weeks ago I was in a house with seven people feeling more at home than I had in weeks-or was it days? And now I am in a small solo dorm and the beach of Lyme is a world away. The only thing I have held onto over these turbulent months is myself. I know that no matter who I am with or where I am, I am with myself first.

I think about December 6 often. What will my morning look like, when I have no itinerary or assignment lording over me? How will I choose to spend my time in an unfamiliar home? Sometimes I worry that upon my return, this entire incredible experience will vanish like a cloud; that the present moment is all there will be, and the luxury of permanence will lull me back into complacency. I worry that I will be the same person I was, just with some cool photos.

Outside the John Fowles cabin in Lyme, I was speaking to a Scotsman and I told him we had been in Edinburgh “a couple of weeks ago”. My travel mate reminded me that it had been months rather than weeks. Lately I have had increasingly vivid memories of the first weeks of our trip, while other segments have entirely vanished. I remember how unsure and scared and shocked I was. I knew nothing of how the world worked, or who my travel mates were. Now, with less than four weeks remaining in our journey, I can see the end in sight as if it were a moment away. I can see the beginning and the end and flashes of the middle. But the middle is where the magic happens. The bulk of the trip has been about learning who I am apart from the communities I was raised in, which is what I set out to explore. What I have found is that I am who I always have been-resilient, inquisitive, sociable to a point. In essence, I am me. This is the barest possible introspection, and I will be processing and unpacking this journey long into 2020.

This trip has forced me to reckon with myself and with how I approach the world as a whole. In my prior life, I was never one to sink into the present moment, but here I have no other option. I feel that I have finally learned this lesson only a moment too late. I had some issues early on with hanging on to useless attachments back home, but I have compartmentalized and released them. But I have also unconsciously released memories of incredible moments through the journey. Of course one mind cannot be remembering all of the last three months simultaneously, but I am making a conscious effort to retain every shining moment, whether through writing it down or tying it to a song or capturing it in a photograph. Back in Coniston I wrote about the balance between capturing a moment and living in it. That tension has only sharpened with the intervening months.

As I come into the home stretch of my journey, I begin to see the final side of the prism. We return to London for the last week of our journey and I am curious to see how perspectives will shift with the seasons. I am only beginning to examine the effects. My journey into the first steps of adulthood truly began this summer with the writing of the essays, and this trip has been the crucible in which my new identity has taken shape.

Bon Voyage 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 E


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