I’ve been back in the city for a month now, and I think I’ve had my fill. Live in the sticks for long enough and civilization begins to feel funny. Once familiar places have become foreign, and former favourite haunts are unremarkable. The historic beauty of my little city is just not enough. Streets that I know as well as the scars and lines and furrows of my own face are losing sentimental significance. The meaning of the word “home” has become distorted and twisted through hours of reflection and reminiscence.
After so many months of countryside living my body is doing its’ best to readjust to the city lifestyle, but so far to no avail. It just craves The Outdoors. There’s a difference between city outside, and real, country outdoors. I go outside obnoxiously early on a Friday morning to put the bins out on the kerb for collection. I go outside when I realise after putting the teabag, sugar and water into the cup that there’s no milk and I must run to the corner shop. The Outdoors, however, is a different beast all together. The Outdoors is full of secrets and impossibly tall trees. In The Outdoors it doesn’t matter when my trousers are filthy and my hair is plastered to my head with sweat. In The Outdoors I feel free and wholesome. My lungs miss the pure, unsullied air. My muscles pine for the impossibly long days of walking, lifting, stretching, playing and laughing. My skin grieves for the kiss of the sun and the bite of the rain. My heart wants to feel weightless again. It’s hard to have a heavy heart when the sky is so big it makes you weep in wonder.
My whole self longs for all of it, but most of all, my mind misses the peace. Working hard with nothing on my mind but the job at hand. Focusing on a moment so absolutely that past and future don’t dare to enter my thoughts. Sitting down, finally, at the end of the day with a clear head and a clear conscience. Knowing I had earned the deep, hard sleep I would soon fall into, and drifting off easily with a mind free of politics or drama or stress. There’s not many people in the western world today who can say that that’s their reality, but for just a moment, I was one of them.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been striving to recapture these feelings and spending a lot of time puzzling over why it should be that in two different locations I feel like two different people. Maybe I wasn’t meant for a “normal” life. Maybe city living was never my destiny. Maybe my boyfriend is right when he calls me “wild woman”. Or maybe fresh air is just good for the soul, whoever you are.