I’m back from what turned out to be a hedonistic week away after all. It’s was pure joy from the moment I boarded the airport train in Oslo to the check-in desk at Manchester airport yesterday (more of which in a moment).
Of course I learned a lot about writing – this was the purpose of the trip after all – and I’ve come back motivated and enthusiastic about getting down to fiction writing. But the greater revelation was personal and totally unexpected. I discovered that not only can I exist happily as a person away from her husband and family – I will even publicly admit that I missed him but not our offspring - but that I can thrive as an individual too. As much as I love my children, mothering them does mean quelling, often neglecting, my spirit. From a distance, it was clear that I am lost in a bottomless pit of anxiety (of my own making) amid the daily routines, logistics and chores that parenting three young children involves.
Last week, I met some wonderful people who love writing, including my Swiss room-mate who travels the world trying to solve conflicts when she's not wielding her fiction pen. I didn’t worry about anything. I lived in the moment. I even sneaked off to the hairdressers in the nearest village when I was supposed to be writing. For a week, I was the Irish girl in the purple wellies (much envied by several who hadn’t arrived in damp Shropshire so practically equipped).
Of course as soon as my children met me at the train station, I remembered why I love them so much – it’s not their fault that I find the daily haranguing and herding relentless. I arrived back from England feeling lighter and will endeavour to maintain some free-spiritedness as I slip back into my Norwegian life. Unfortunately for my bank balance, such lightness didn’t extend to my luggage. I spent Saturday afternoon shopping in Manchester where people couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful (and not just in putting a massive hole in my pocket). I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to be surrounded by people speaking English who don’t act as if one is invisible.
My bags were 14 kilos overweight – ten of which I was charged ₤80 for – at check-in on the way home. Darling if you’re reading, I’m sorry - I promise not to buy any more shoes until we go to Ireland in July - I hope on balance you'll think it was worth it ;-)