This is the question that haunts my days and nights and causing me endless amount of stress. It’s nearly August and I still don’t know what to do.
I feel like instead of making a decision on what will make me happy I am choosing between what will make me less unhappy. I can’t even bring myself to make a list of pros and cons because I don’t know what will fall into what category. Also, I’m scared. Absolutely fucking scared shitless. I’m scared to make a decision because I feel whatever I would choose, I will regret not choosing the other.
All my life I have taken pride in the fact that I have lived my life without regrets but for the first time ever, I’m worrying about regretting. And it’s driving me insane! I’m not sure if it’s being little bit older (nearing the 3 and 0, which I know isn’t that old at all but when you’ve never had to write your age down with a number that beings with 3, it’s a but daunting…) or if I’ve just suddenly become a coward, but I am genuinely afraid to choose.
Staying means staying at a job that I really, really like. It means working in a place that I have become to love and work with people I really like working with. It means for the first time in my life being trusted and appreciated at work. It means feeling like I’m important and what I do is actually helpful. It means knowing that maybe I’m not completely shit at what I do.
Staying also means staying in this area that I find so home-like. It means being able to wander around in the hills and nature. It means living in a small community where I am not judged, even if I am a foreigner. It means the simplicity of a village life. It means not worrying about what I wear to go to the shop or for a dog walk or the pub.
Staying means independence from influences of my family. It means being able to be far away to make my own decisions and choices. It means not worrying about having to explain myself. It means not being judged for wanting different things.
But staying also means being alone and lonely. It means feeling like the third wheel most of the time. It means feeling like a annoying little sister who is only invited along because that’s what “mother” order, because it’s the polite thing to do. It means always being the outsider. It means not having my people who’d make me feel like maybe I’m not a complete loser. It means being the only single person in a society full of couples.
Going means being close to my people again. It means being able to go out, talk, drink wine, do silly things. It means having an option not to stare at the ceiling on my own when not working. It means having friends again. It means feelibg like I belong. It means being slightly less lonely and alone.
Going means being living in a bigger place with more opportunities to do things and to meet people. It means more diversity in options. It means standing out less in a crowd like a sore thumb. It means being able to blend into the mass more easily.
But going also means risking not finding a job that would offer me as much as my job now offers. It means having to start from square one to prove myself. It means risking nit having an employer who can see past my insecurity and complete lack of self-confidence. It means risking not achieving anything because no one will belive I can achieve anything. It means feeling like a failure in life.
I don’t know what to choose. I don’t want to choose! I’m afraid to make the wrong decision. I’m afraid of not knowing what to do next, nit knowing what I want to do next. I’m scared that whatever I do, I’ll never amount to anything more than a lonely failure. I just don’t know what to do!
I just want someone to look into a crystal ball and tell me it’s going to be alright.
It’s been hot in here! Although living in what is supposed to be one of the wettest places in England with a name that suggests that it’s half way between shit and crap, I shouldn’t really complain. Not that I am but it is very hot.
Mostly, it doesn’t bother me as I am at work most of the time anyway (although the kitchen can get a bit too uncomfortably hot when we’re doing dinners). Wednesday we catered for a school group of nearly 30 kids plus the normal dinner service. It all went as smoothly as possible actually. So much so that when Thursday evening came around and it seemed like quite an average night, I let myself to be chilled out a bit and not worry about the night. Big mistake. With the England v Belgium game on and a few unnecessarily difficult guest, I lost it and had a anxiety attack that left me shaking and gasping for air. My night was ruined from then on. I was angry at myself for letting myself and everyone down. Luckily my Employer realised something was off and closed the kitchen door to allow me some space away from guests and took on some of front of house duties.
By Friday I was once again knackered but in slightly better form than a week ago. We had planned a Wineskype with friends, so by 4 pm I had managed to set out a little picnic on my patio and open a bottle of cava. I really needed the catch up and I am forever grateful to have friends who are still willing to give me a time of day even after 3 years of being away. And who are happy to set aside dates 2 months in advance for catching up in person.
It was nearly 9.30pm by the time we finished our call. I enjoyed feeling a but chilly sitting outside after few days of not being able to cool down. I had had no plans for Saturday except for just a bit of chilling but at about 9 o’clock I got a message from my Employer inviting me to walk the dogs in Swindale. I wasn’t going to say no and just in case packed a towel and put on my swimwear in chance I could get in one of the pools of the waterfalls. We did end up scrambling up the river and to the lush pool at the top.
That place feels like a real secret paradise: it’s off the path and covered by steep banks on either side with some lush vegetation surrounding it. Although thanks to Tia the dog having a shake at the very moment I had hunched over her to give her a hand on rocks, I was already pretty wet when we reached the pool, I still decided to actually dive in the water. I couldn’t really feel it being that cold, the difference of temperature did give my body a but of a shock and for a moment knocked my breath out.
It was a perfect swim. After nearly three summers in this country, I had never swam in open water till the last couple of weeks. First I went for a swim in Windermere a few weeks ago after paddle boarding and now Swindale Beck. I love water and especially natural pools. As I kid I spent all my summers in our local lake only emerging when my parents managed to convince me to sit in the sun until my lips were no longer blue.
I spent the rest of my Saturday being lazy and not doing much. As it was so warm, I also decided to head for a swim in Shap open air swimming pool. Apparently my Employer had got me a season ticket so it would not do wasting it. I invited LA to join me and we spent about an hour leisurely measuring the lengths of the small pool. After a nice dinner and a glass of wine at home later on, I slept like a log until 8 am this morning, which is a major lie-in in my books!
We’ve got one more long week to survive at New Ing and next weekend we’re going to have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off!
After a lazy day, I did decide to go walk over to Swindale just to have a sit down and think. It is one of my most favourite places in the the world. There’s something about sitting on the verge of that valley and looking around that just cuddles my soul. It’s both calming and it also stirs up plenty of emotions.
I had a great and much needed chat with a friend on Facebook yesterday and it gave me plenty of ideas to chew through. One of the drawback of stepping away from social media has been no longer being in touch with goes on in my friends’ lives. But a beautiful thing that has emerged is that in the last couple of weeks, a few people, whom I haven’t really been in touch with for a while, have messaged me because they haven’t seen me online and asking if I’m alright. It really means a lot to me. One of the reasons I felt I needed to step back from Facebook and Instagram was that it made me feel so alone and isolated. So to have people notice my absence has been a huge surprise to me, but in a very good way.
Anyway, at 7pm last night I packed my notebook, book, some wine, my badass wine glass and a few snacks in my backpack and headed towards my spot. There wasn’t a soul about except grazing sheep. I found a spot that gave a good view of the whole valley and settled in with my book and a glass of wine. As it had been an overcast day, I didn’t expect an amazing sunset but in the end I think I got what I came for.
I got back home just before 11 pm. Straight to bed and enjoyed a good night’s sleep. With all the thoughts that ran through my head as I was sitting there, one certain decision that I made was to buy a new camera to take better photos and transfer them in a better fashion.
I’ve been so tired lately. I feel like my whole body is exhausted. And today I decided to succumb to it and accept it.
It’s Saturday and last week has been pretty busy at work. Wednesday night we must have served about 40 covers, which is a lot for our establishment. It was pretty full on night making sure all the guests got looked after, getting all the orders right and trying to stay smiling all through it. I didn’t finish until after 10pm and I was back at work just after 5am the next morning. Thursday night was late again with some added drinks (because I’m an idiot who thinks she can drink on school nights). Friday was a again a 5am start (with a very bad head) and busy day of getting the house ready. Then I got a lift to Kendal straight after to do my food shop, back home for a quick tidy up, shower and a minute in the deck chair before heading to town for a few beers with Employer and the Monk.
I was so tired that I even forgot to put on my shirt for going out and didn’t realise it until half way to town. I wasn’t exactky naked butbI did feels like in in just my strappy top and shorts. Now that dogs are no longer allowed on the window seats at the Fell, I occupied it myself and I really struggled with staying awake as we sampled the beers. I really haven’t felt so completely knackered in ages. I could barely concentrate what was going on around me. It got to the point of exhaustion when nothing really matters anymore. I did seriously considered just closing my eyes for 10 minutes in the bar… just for a quick kip. I didn’t. But I was early to bed last night.
This morning I still feel tired but I decided I’m going to embrace it. I worked hard and I’m allowed to be tired. I’m allowed not to do anything. So instead I’ve been reading in my PJs on the deck, caught up with TV and genuinely lounged about. Normally I’d feel bad about it but I decided not to today. As I walked to work early Friday morning, the hills looked so lush and I want to play in them so badly but I also want my body to have a chance to recover. So when my Employer suggested dropping me off at Shap Fell early morning, I told him to jog on. I as much as I feel the need to be in the hills, I also needed to have a good night’s rest. And I am thinking about maybe heading to Swindale for sunset to catch the light and have a little moment there.
Until then, I’m just going to be lazy and not feel bad about it. I’m taking my first steps in trying to listen to my body and offer it what it needs. And today it needs a couch, loads of water, fruits and chocolate. And that’s okay.
It’s Easter weekend. It’s the last weekend before our season of bedding and breakfasting guests starts again for the next six or seven months. And it’s not exactly a free weekend. I have 24 people expecting a 2-course dinner tonight and I’m doing it alone. And Sunday, two of us will go in to do another dinner for the same lot.
The last few weeks have been quite a carousel of emotions. On the one hand, I am looking forward to working full-time again. It’ll be my third summer working here and I know what I’m doing and I know how everything works. I also know that I’m not completely shit at what I do. I like my job, even if it does mean working around the clock at some days.
On the other hand, I’m more confused about things than I have ever been. I had a horrific few days last weekend of just being curled up on the couch not able to move or do anything but be engrossed all the darkness that was occupying my mind. I guess I realised how bad it was when my Employer sat me down on Monday and essentially told me to get my shit together. In a nice and concerned way. I am scared of this season of working as I feel like after last year, I was left so empty and broken, and I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered. And I’m scared to be empty and broken again. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to handle it again.
I’m also scared because I feel like the pressure to reach a decision on what happens after this summer. Am I going to stay or am I going to go back? Or go forward? I have no idea what to do and I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve always had a secret dream or a plan of what I want to do. But I feel like I have reached the end of my dream, like this path I’ve been on is leading to a dead-end. And I genuinely have no idea what I want to do or indeed should do next.
I was having beers with the Employer at the top of the field on Wednesday night. “The top of the field” is a little corner of our grounds that’s the highest point and has the best view of the village and the hills in the distance. I love that view. As the sun was setting behind the clouds that had gathered around the hills, I couldn’t help but think, “How am I supposed to give this up!?” These hills are what I came here for, this quiet village life is something I have come to love and appreciate. A part of me cannot imagine life in any other place.
But (and there’s always a big fat but) it’s an incredibly lonely life. It has taken me years and a huge amount of courage, but for the first time in my life I want, and need to admit it to myself that I feel lonely. I’ve always been the cat that wanders around on her own. I have taken pride in my independence. But there is a price to pay and it’s a dear one. I said at the beginning of last year that I needed to name my demons and I have realised after a lot of denial, that this one is my biggest one, and always has been.
As we were sitting outside in the cold (god, it was fucking freezing!) spring evening, I admitted to the Employer that I miss having friends. I miss having single friends. I only realise now what a stupid move it was to pack my bags and move thousands of miles from people who have so kindly opened their hearts to me. I don’t consider myself a nice person, or an easy person to befriend. I takes me ages to trust people and to make friends. I can count the people in whose company I don’t feel like the outsider, like someone they had to invite along out of politeness or social convention, on one hand. In fact, I don’t even need all the fingers. And they all live in Estonia. So what am I doing out here? Why am I here pursuing some selfish dream that’s not working out?
And don’t get me wrong, the people I’ve met here have been incredibly kind towards me. But Cumbria is an odd place and it’s very difficult to actually make genuine connections to people. And everyone I know here (with an exception of the Monk) has the other half. It’s a different crowd to what I’m used to and it’s very easy to feel out of place. More importantly, it seems to really emphasise my loneliness and isolation.
It’s gets more and more difficult to make new friends as you get older and I can feel like I’m getting to an age, where it’s nigh impossible to weave close relationships with new people. Everyone already has friends and habits and partners. They are not necessarily out to look for new ones. So living in a small community becomes very, very lonely.
All this is making me think about moving back to Estonia. Except that I cannot see where I would live or what I would do that would offer me the satisfaction that my work and my physical environment does here. I don’t know what to do. What to I choose? The place or the people? It’s not like I didn’t feel lonely in Estonia but at least I had those few people who were only a few hours away, rather than a day’s worth of travel away.
I’m lost for ideas. I feel like this selfish dream I came to chase after was just an illusion and I’m back at square one but this time without an idea what the next step is. And it’s killing me inside…
I’ve been away from Facebook and Instagram for a fortnight now. It doesn’t mean I haven’t opened either of them, I have. It has been either for work or just to quickly check my notifications. But all this has been just a quick check. I haven’t scrolled through any feeds or posted anything.
On the one hand, it has been a bit hard. I am so used to still killing time by scrolling and finding what else to do with this time has been a strugglr. I went for a walk and got some nice photos but couldn’t share them. I still feel like maybe I’m missing something important. On the other hand, it has been incredibly easy. In fact, I feel like I have proved my point that I can step away but at the same time I don’t want to go back because nothing has actually changed.
I also realised that one of the reasons I have stayed away is the lack of authenticity. It dawned on me when I was speaking to someone. They had been out snow boarding just a few miles away from here when we still had snow. They showed me a video of them throwing a wobble after face planting in the snow. What made me realise why I wanted to stay away from social media was what was said next. They said, “I was upset because I had had the longest run of the afternoon before falling down but that wasn’t on the video. And I felt, what’s the point, the video wasn’t even on!”
Suddenly the alarm bells started ringing. The experience didn’t have a point for them because it wasn’t caught video and therefore it couldn’t be shared on social media. Wow. Maybe it wasn’t meant so bluntly but it certainly came out like that.
That moment I realised why I no longer wanted to do things that I used to like such as going for a walk or a run. Normally, I would share my experience by way of photos on social media. I wouldn’t go for a walk just to get an Instagram post out of it, rather I would just want to share the beauty of nature and the amazing feeling it gave me (garnished with a healthy amount of showing off). However, I have noticed with certain people around me that the reason for going out lies in getting a great post out of it that would make their lives seems so awesome. And I don’t want to play that game. What’s the point of complaining the whole walk uphill about the weather and how hard if is just to then post a dreamy picture of looking into the distance at the summit. #blessed #somerandommotivationalquote #NOTREAL
I genuinely used to love being outdoors. I could go and just get a rest from my brain and I wanted to celebrate that because getting simple joy out of nature was such a healing sensation. Now I feel like that experience has been soiled by the Instagram hikers who go out to create an illusion of an outdoorsy life. I feel like the things I used to love are not real anymore. They’ve become the “cool thing” to do and I’ve never been cool in my life. I feel that if I were to post a photo of a walk it would be classed together with those highly thought through Pinterest worthy compositions and it would just make the experience not real. Summiting a hill wasn’t about the photo oportunity for me, it was about the experience of doing it and about that moment of sitting down, sweating and out of breath, and feeling like I had achieved something. I now feel like a liar if I were to do it. I also feel like if I can’t have an amazing photo out of the walk, I have failed in the eyes of the society.
It sounds stupid and full of bullshit, but I feel like there’s so little that’s authentic in the life around me and that people have become fake too. When you struggle with self-confidence and trying to fit in/belong somewhere, this fakeness is so difficult to stomach. It makes me feel incredibly lonely because I don’t trust anything or anyone to be real. I can’t really feel any connection with anyone around me.
Worst of all, it makes me feel fake and I hate it.
Today I deleted the Instagram and Facebook apps from my devices. Why? Because I need a break and a chance to see clearly without the filters. I have already written about how I live a life with an Instagram filter but only in the last few days did I realise how much I am actually influenced by social media and how anxious and depressed it can make me.
Over the last week, I have suffered through some pretty horrible nights. I have found myself unable to sleep and my brain has been working overtime. I have wound myself up to a point where I found it difficult to breathe or just to exist. As a result I haven’t been feeling great all around. I’m scared of going to bed because I don’t know whether I am able to sleep tonight or have to go through the ordeals again.
What has helped me a bit over these last few days has been shutting off my phone and making an effort not to check it after going to bed. It might seems such an obvious thing but it has given me a few extra hours each night. I realised that one of the things that I kept checking was whether someone was “communicating” with me. I was checking for acknowledgment from others in the form of likes and comments on my photos on Instagram and Facebook. I kept trying to figure out what to post to make my life seem more interesting and to collect more likes.
I realise that this a dangerous road to go down. There are never enough likes to fill the void I thought I was feeling. I have been feeling very alone and vulnerable recently, like I am isolated from people around me. I thought that Instagram and Facebook would help me connect with people, but in fact, they made me feel worse. I know that most people tap twice on a post on Instagram just out of a habit without giving it much attention. Tap-tap, scroll, tap-tap, scroll… I do that, so why do I expect anyone else to concentrate any more. So in the end, those likes that I was so desperately expecting didn’t really fill my desire to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be comforted in feeling alone and scared.
And when you are feeling alone and scared, other people’s carefully constructed and edited lives don’t make you feel any better either. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to what other people post on social media, but it’s difficult not to when you are feeling down. I felt like I am not pretty enough, interesting enough, happy enough. I felt like I am not enough. So although I was scrolling through the feed in search for escape, it was getting even more locked up in my negative thoughts.
I didn’t delete my accounts and I have every intention to returning to them but I just need a week or two, or even just a few days of staying away. A few days where I don’t have to compare myself to what I could be. A few days when I don’t have to think about creating an image. I need a few days where I can feel my feelings and learn to not to mask them with filters. I need to learn not to look for acknowledgement somewhere where it’s not actually given.
Is it going to be difficult? I have no doubt it will be incredibly difficult. I have no problem admitting a certain addiction to social media. It will so tempting to scroll through Instagram posts first thing in the morning and refreshing Facebook feed as a break at work. It will take a while not to think about my day in terms of what interesting I could post on Instagram. It will feel even more lonely. But I hope it will hurt a little less, I hope I can sleep again with a bit more peace of mind knowing that I have chosen to miss it all. I hope I can at least for a minute stop comparing my life with others and feeling like a complete failure.
I had a little bit of a rough ride emotionally in 2017. Looking at the big picture and everything that has gone on, I haven’t really had a bad year. Although this season was much more stressful at work, it also taught me a lot of things and somewhere deep inside of me is now a tiny corner of confidence named “Maybe I’m not completely shit at this”.
However, I’ve had a difficult year in controlling my thoughts and my emotions. Although there have been plenty of wonderful moments, there have also been some very, very dark days and nights. I promised myself at the beginning of last year that I will name my demons and thus be rid of them. The reality hasn’t been quite this simple. I have named a few of them but that hasn’t really helped me feel better. Instead, some days I feel even more desperate because although I know these demons, but I don’t know how to vanquish them.
Between all of that, the joy of being alive has slipped away from me a bit. I thought about it first a few months ago. This summer, my Employer took me along paddle boarding on Ullswater a few times and ever since then he has urged me to buy a board. I was (and still am) reluctant to rush into it as it’s expensive kit and I’m not sure how much I would use it. To that my Employer said, “Don’t think about it like that. I would think about it what brings you enjoyment in life.” Even then, I wasn’t sure how to answer that as I was struggling with enjoying life.
A few weeks ago, I had another bad day of feeling sorry for myself and my life and I realised again that it’s been a while since I have really felt joy. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and found pictures from my first summer in Cumbria. What stabbed me most deeply was that I didn’t recognise myself on the pictures. There were photos of the walks I had taken; of the night I spent wild camping at Grisedale Tarn and of walking back to Shap the next day. Who was that girl? She was clearly enjoying life, full of joy and feeling alive. She didn’t care for the mud and sweat. She knew how to switch off her brain. I cannot believe she’s me.
This year, I have struggled to get out of bed and out of house. I have hardly been to the hills. It would be easy to blame it on work but I was working on the same job last summer and was just as busy. In fact, this summer I actually had nights and mornings when I wasn’t working. Yet I didn’t find the energy to go out exploring. I think partly because I was too scared to ruin the hills for myself. I was afraid of not being able to find peace there and not actually enjoying it because my mind was troubled with negative thoughts. But also I was so exhausted by those same thoughts that I just couldn’t find the energy and the calling for it.
I had plenty of happy moments in 2017 but I miss those hours spent out hiking in the hills. I miss the fells. I miss that girl who felt most alive in the hills. I wish I knew how to find her again because life without enjoyment is pretty dull and I’m getting really tired of it.
I had to write seven similes for my creative writing class. The idea of the task is to observe something really closely and practise your skills of description. I don’t feel particularly strong when it comes to describing anything, so instead I choose a more abstract notion and tried to find similes for that. The word I chose was home.
I have struggled with the meaning and definition of home for a while now, even before I moved out of my home country. I feel often feel “homeless” or “rootless”. I have never owned a place, so I don’t feel like there’s been a place that is mine alone, my home.
Obviously, there’s the home I grew up in. My parents still live there and I visit it as often as possible. (When I lived in Estonia, at least once a month, usually even more often.) For a brief period I moved back there only to realise that if you have moved out of home at the age of 15, it is difficult to move back again ten years later. I think a while ago I might have really hurt my mother’s feelings when I tried to talk to her about not having a home. She then in complete confusion tried to explain that I have a home there, with them. And I can’t argue with that. It is a home but It’s not my home, it’s our home.
For a brief period when I lived in Tallinn, I rented a small tiny bedsit in a slightly dodgy area (I always felt pretty safe there). This was the first time in my life that I didn’t live with anyone else. I had the whole flat to myself (the whole 16 square metres!), I didn’t have to share anything. I didn’t have to take someone else’s plans into consideration when making my own. I could have friends over whenever I wanted. I liked that freedom.
Although that tiny, tight space might have been just mine (even though I was renting it), Tallinn was never a place that I felt at home in. I have realised now that I am not a city person and as many perks as there were about living in Tallinn, I wasn’t a fan. The one place I had really felt like home had been in Cumbria and Lake District.
So I moved here. But I no longer have a space to call my own. For last two years I have inhabited a room in the loft (i.e I’m the madwoman in the attic!) where I needed to move out over weekends as the house gets taken over by groups. I then move into the spare bedroom of my employers. They have beautiful house but I can’t help but feel like a guest and out of place.
However, when it comes to my surroundings, I have never felt more at home. I love the life in a small village, where people are polite and if they don’t know you, they are likely to know of you. The skyline of fells in the distance has become so familiar and at the same time, awe-strucking and surprising every time I look at it. On the one hand, it has been difficult to fit into a small community and my almost non-existent social life is at its all the low. On the other hand, I have been welcomed so warmly by so many people around here. About 18 months ago, I was heading for a run when a woman stopped me just outside the village, “You live in the village, don’t you? Why don’t you join our running group on Thursday nights?” And that’s how I ended up meeting fun people who like to run together and who in a way helped me to enjoy my first half-marathon. A few weeks ago I was being lazy and went to the local cafe for my lunch and got greeted with a hug from the owner. These little things mean so much to me. So although I haven’t made any real close friends (my employers excluded) or met the love of my life, I still feel like I have been noticed and acknowledged in the community. (I still feel crippling loneliness and homesickness for friends and family often enough…)
Will I ever be able to join all the dots that would mean to have my home for real? I don’t know. I appreciate the fact that I will always have a home with my parents. I appreciate even more that once when I was talking to S, my employer about this feeling of homelessness he said that I would always have a home here as well.
What makes a home for me then? It’s not so much about what the actual physical space is like but about the whole deal. It’s having my own space, something that is really mine. It’s about having that space in an environment that feels like a community. And it’s about having my people, my friends within that community. Is it too much to ask? Perhaps. God knows I can’t afford to step on the property ladder anytime soon unless I win the lottery or dig up that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Maybe I’ll forever be homeless and rootless and having to compromise.
We had another week at the guesthouse this August booked by a group for sole use and since I had been “on call” for the previous one, it was my time to go away. Since my last visit to homeland had been in January, it was time to show my face again and save the real travelling for after the season ends.
It must be a sign of getting older but travelling is no longer as exciting as it used to be. I used to love airports, how simple and straightforward they are. I now find them annoying. Especially if you are trying to be frugal and spend the night there for an early morning flight. Glasgow airport is especially annoying because their benches have armrests between every seat so you can’t even have a sneaky nap. It’s also getting quite exhausting that I can’t get a direct flight to Estonia from this end of the country. So when you land in Riga, it’s still a long way from home. Previously I have flown to Tallinn, but since the flights were super expensive, I decided not to this time. So by the time I landed, I was not only bursting for a wee (I’ve never used the toilet in an airplane and refused to do it when it was only half an hour before landing), I was also sleep deprived and exhausted before I even reached home.
My mum and dad volunteered to pick me up and we had a roadtrip back home with a compulsory sea break near Salacgriva and a booze shop just off the border (alcohol is much cheaper in Latvia). I only nodded off a few times on the back seat and kept the parents company most of the way.
After a good night’s sleep and a slow morning, I was off to Viljandi to meet up with my adopted family. J, who now lives in California, and I overlapped in our visits to homeland and as we hadn’t seen each other for a good few years, a reunion was mandatory. Especially, since she had got engaged a few days before we met and I was in for a chance to meet the lucky man for the first time. Before I stepped on the train, J asked if I’d be willing to do a kind of engagement photoshoot for them. I reluctantly agreed, mainly because they (and I mean, she) wanted to do it in the wetlands and I was dying to go there.
I was reluctant because I am not a photographer. I have a DSLR that I can barely use (it’s not even mine) and my photo editing skills end with moving the scales for light and colour settings on Google Photos. Luckily it was a beautiful evening and the setting sun created a gorgeous light. J & C were naturals at posing, so I just needed to point and shoot. In the end, I’m really pleased with the photos that I took.
Dips in to the marsh pool and a sauna later made for a perfect finish to the night. After a leisurely breakfast I went to see my aunt who lives just outside the town. I never told her I was coming as she is always home, so it was nice to surprise her. It meant a lot for me to go and see her, as I am never sure when will be the last time I see her. So whenever I’m in Estonia, I make sure to visit her. It warmed my heart to see her in good form and spirits and it gave me hope that I’ll see her again Christmas time.
Friday night was booked for a meet up with the girls from uni. I met K and K at the airport as they landed from their trip to London as well as S who had come straight from the office in Tartu just to hang out with us. We had a quick meal and then took a bottle of wine to the roof of the now empty concert hall Linnahall to watch the sunset. We ended our night in Telliskivi and after copious amount of wine, I was in bed by 4am.
Saturday was Estonian Night Run and in the morning I was really regretting signing up for it. Not just because of the headache and tiredness but also because due to various injuries, I had only been for a run a couple of times in months leading up to it. In fact, I remember the day I signed up for it, I went for a first big(gish) walk after injurying my foot at a wedding in May. I came back limping quite badly again. My foot seemed to be properly heal by the run. It was just my general physical fitness that had gone down the drain in the summer months and the five extra kilos I am carrying don’t necessarily help.
However, the run went much better than I expected. It had been really stuffy and scorching throughout the day but as I was standing in start among thousands of people, I could see the massive storm clouds gathering. I thought it would start raining before we’d be able to even set off, but it was only 10 minutes before I finished that the heavens opened up and the biggest thunder storm of the last few years took over. I crossed the finish line with a very pleasing result of 1:02:40 absolutely soaked. Very ladylike, I just used my mum’s rain poncho to give some cover while I changed every item of clothing in the middle of a parking lot in town center. I had felt really good and strong throughout the run and even my dodgy knee kept it together. (It could be that my knee was just so pleased about running on flat ground that it forgot to give me grief!)
On Monday, I my dad insisted on going for a road trip and we headed out towards Lake Peipus on the roads less travelled. I had only one request for the trip: I really wanted some pelmeens (a kind of dumplings). We stopped in Äksi Motel, which according the the placard by the church, was opened in 1989 and I don’t think much of it’s interior has changed since them. However, they had pelmeens on their menu and that satisfied my cravings. It was almost nostalgic eating there, reminded me the simple lunch canteens of my hometown where we used to have occasional lunches when I was growing up.
The weather didn’t exactly feel like going for a swim, so our main attraction by Lake Peipus was cruising through the villages and buying some local onions (the region is famous for their onions!) and smoked walleye as well as some pickled cucumbers to go with the fish. It was a real feast that night for dinner at home!
On Tuesday, it was time to pack my bag and head to Tallinn, to spend the last night with my sister and her kids. I got us some chanterelles from the new market at the train station and after we’d put the kids to bed, we tasted some wonderful craft beers and stayed up on the couch till way past midnight. The bus that took me back to Riga left at 6 o’clock the next morning and I landed back in Shap about 15 hours later.
I noticed a few things during my visit this time. Firstly, the first day or so, I slightly struggled with speaking Estonian. More than once, I found myself automatically saying yes or no in English in answer to the question. Secondly, I’ve really got used to the code of politeness here according to which you say generally greet the people you meet, say thank you if someone holds a door open or let you cross the road. Out of habit, I said hello to few people I didn’t know in my hometown and got a very stunned reaction from them. I’m no longer comfortable with not saying hello to people although I know it’s not about being rude. Finally, as I was on the train back from Glasgow towards Cumbria, I found comfort in the hills that defined the landscape. The vast and empty flatness of Estonia had felt a bit alien for me; I couldn’t grasp it. I am forever bragging to guests about how beautiful the wilderness of Estonia is and I truly believe it. But it seems that I need hills and fells and mountains to make me feel comfortable.
It was an emotional trip being back, I found myself fighting with tears more than once. A tiny part of me had hoped that maybe it would bring me clarity about what to do next, but the truth is, I’m even more confused. I’m unsure where is home: is it here or is it in Estonia? Maybe it’s somewhere else all together?