Here I am then. Back in the strange little 17th century stone cottage I own in beautiful Somerset.
At least, my body is. My possessions are here too – many still waiting to be unpacked as I try to remember where on earth I used to keep them. The rest of me, though, hasn’t quite landed yet.
These two lives I’ve been living this year are so utterly different. When I moved to the East, I had to adjust instantly; there was so much to do. Here, there is no urgency. The days are not planned for me. I don’t need to be in specific places at specific times. I don’t have a list of tasks with completion dates. I just have Life – and I can choose how frenetic or leisurely to make it.
Then there’s the space. My house is tiny by most people’s standards, but after seven months of single-room living I’m finding it strange to have a separate room for almost every activity. It feels almost decadent. I will readjust, but I haven’t yet.
Oh and the people! I am a solitary soul by nature – quite happy with my own company. Living alone suits me well and there were many occasions when, at the end of a frantic day with the grandchildren, I could shut myself into the little studio flat and unwind. They were always nearby, though, and while I didn’t see them every day, there were never more than two or three days without company. Here there are friends, and no doubt I’ll see all of them soon – when the missing bits of me have landed…
So what is it that is really bugging me?
Home. That’s what.
‘Home is where your heart is’, so they say. Trouble is, my heart is one of the bits of me that hasn’t landed yet. It’s scattered in several different places.
You see, the town I’ve been living in for the last half-year is the town I called home for over thirty years. It’s where I gave birth to and raised my three children, where I taught hundreds of others, where I forged all the most significant relationships in my life. It’s also the place I ran from when my job and my marriage and my wellbeing became so compromised that I knew I needed a new start.
I ended up here, convinced that I’d found what I grandly called my ‘spiritual home’. Glastonbury is a powerful place. People say it chooses you, rather than the other way about. Certainly, over the ten years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen many arrive with plans to make changes and give the place what they decide it needs. Within six months, they are scuttling off, tails between their legs. Glastonbury chews that sort up and spits them out. Me? Oh, it tolerates me well enough. It shares it’s history and beauty and energy with me. It accepts that I refuse to join any of its tribes (Pagans, Sufis, Goddesses, Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Alternatives etc.) and quietly plough my own furrow, but it doesn’t welcome me into the fold.
In the East, there are tribes, too, of course – the famed ‘Essex girls’ with their madly manicured nails, immaculately tinted hair, fake tans and glitzy fashion; the overweight mothers, bulging out of skin-tight lycra and screaming obscenities into their phones or at their children; the young men with smart suits and fast cars, chattering into their bluetooth headsets as they scurry hither and thither, and the cheery but dreary housewives, who have always lived there and always will, and thank providence for their uneventful lives. I feel a stranger amongst them, too.
I often wonder if there’s a place where I’d fit – where my tribe can be found. Certainly there are places I’m drawn to – places whose beauty leaves me gasping, and this is certainly one of them. Is that a sufficient reason to stay here?
Well, why not?
After all, if this strange year has taught me anything, it’s that my body and my possessions will happily settle anywhere. Maybe my heart and soul just need to float for a while longer…