I spent most of May and June telling anyone who’d listen that this, these months, now, would be the first summer months I’d be in England in my whole adult life.
I’d been worried about it. It didn’t seem natural to spend my bus rides into work under the dull grey of clouds holding a very particular kind of drizzle.
I’d pass women with goosebumped arms and thick, Kate Middleton-esque sheer tights, seemingly determined to make the transition to summer wardrobe despite all evidence to the contrary.
There’s nothing sadder than white linen trousers in the rain.
Reading books about Roman food and Sicilian traditions on my daily commute, almost every other day I’d think to myself I can’t do this. I’m not built to live in one place, and certainly not in a place under 30 degrees.
I’d resolve to pack it all in, as I’ve half been expecting myself to do ever since I moved to London. Go somewhere hot and… well. I couldn’t ever get further than that, because then something glorious would happen to remind me that no. I’m supposed to be here. The sun doesn’t have to shine when there is so much light in my life.
But I’ve always had a backpack strapped to my person at this time, whether starting a big adventure or continuing a life less ordinary. I’m used to arriving back in England mid-September, tan and knackered, bunking down for a cold winter until my next exit strategy. September has always been my time for new beginnings. Something to do with the leaves.
Four years in Italy, two summers in France, trips squeezed in to India, Asia, Europe- anywhere but here. But here was never London. Here never had so much promise.
And yet still I persisted, deterred by the weather- long before it got so hot that now we’re praying for the rain to come again another day. Today. I wish I was going somewhere with that backpack this year, I moaned to the world. Over and over. I bored myself.
But my advice to you is this: be ye not so stupid. I’m normally the first one to vouch for the fact that if you want for something hard enough, the Universe provides. Well, the universe has provided. Turns out, I will be backpacking this summer after all. Just not in the way that I imagined.
I’m homeless. At the end of the month I have nowhere to live. My living situation got so bad lately that I couldn’t stand to be in the apartment for one second longer. And yes, I live with my brother, and no, this isn’t about him, and yes there is a third housemate, and no, I’ve never mentioned him before because yes, my mother always taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say then I shouldn’t say anything at all.
Mother also taught me not to keep cocaine in the house, but I guess not everyone got that lesson.
The first weekend in August I have to be out, and after that? WHO KNOWS.
I’ll be moving in with a friend in the middle of September, which is basically the most exciting thing to happen since I had a really great bowl of raisin All Bran for my tea, and until then, my backpack and I will be getting reacquainted.
Sometimes I wonder if I sabotage myself just so I feel like I have something to say.
For six weeks my life must fit into a backpacker’s bag, the rest of my things scurried away at my brother’s house. And the really fun thing? My old Italian roomie is heading over from New York for two weeks slap bang in the middle of this.
GUESS WHAT? I emailed her. YOU KNOW HOW YOU WERE GONNA KIP ON MY SOFA? WELL I DON’T HAVE ONE.
Let the games commence, she wrote back, because it’s the friends you make on the road that tend to understand the most.
So that’s the story of how, at 27 years old, proper job and finally a good pair of shoes to my name, I will be couch surfing for the summer. A bag of life’s essentials and a spare deodorant in my desk drawer, I’ve somehow managed to organise a week here in this house, a trip there to visit that old mate. A jaunt to that place, a few nights somewhere else.
I’ll be on the Southbank and then up in Scotland; I might swing by my parent’s place and have a night or two in a temporary let. I’m heading over to Rome to teach for a week as well, so actually, I will return mid-September tan and knackered.
I mean, of course I will. The universe knows exactly what she’s doing.