There are obvious things that are missed when traveling. Less obvious absences make themselves known over time, when you are unprepared for their arrival.
I miss my clothes. Which is more to say, I am getting sick and tired of wearing the same clothes over and over. Three months of two pairs of jeans and rotating six tops. I miss dressing myself up. I miss looking pretty.
(Anyone who leaves a comment that in any way attempts to assure me that I am pretty regardless will have their comment deleted. Not seeking compliments.)
This does in a way feed into mental well being. Poppy summed it up wonderfully in this post;
"When I sit down and go through the ritual of of painting my nails, doing my makeup and hair, and putting on a pretty outfit, I am allowing myself to feel like I am worthy of spending time on myself."
It is nigh impossible to accomplish this when dragging yourself from hostel to hostel with a limited and purely functional wardrobe. It may be mistaken for vanity, but not being able to put together nifty little outfits and step out knowing that no matter how I feel about my body, my clothes look faaabulous does make it a little harder to feel good about myself. As I am now, with my dino chucks, jeans, and a plain long sleeved tee, I'm pretty mediocre.
I miss having a desk. They're under-valued items of furniture and do not feature in any hostels or hotels. Sitting here in Starbucks eating their wifi, and my hands and shoulders are most unhappy with this table. It's even worse back in the room - not even a table to speak of.
I read on the train today. Perhaps I've been in London long enough to feel comfortable knowing where I am, that I did not have to keep observing those around me or checking the next station incessantly. Fear of motion sickness had stopped me from trying before, but I managed it today without nausea, and it was wonderful. Such a normal, ordinary activity. More than opening a bank account, buying bus tickets and organising my mobile, this felt like an achievement. The first cut in carving out this world and making it my own.
There is fresh milk in England. The continent does not seem to do fresh milk, another little thing I took for granted. There is no sour milk either. Beware of sour milk. You will pass through foreign lands and pick up cartons that look like milk, only to find you have poured something that is most of the way toward being yoghurt into your tea.
In Iceland, do not buy the a + b milk.
In the Czech Republic, do not buy the green cartons.
You have no idea the heartbreak. No idea.
It was not as significant a relief as I expected it to be, to finally be in the land in which my native tongue originates and is named after. I can ask complicated questions and understand complicated answers. Hell, even simple questions. I can read all signs. That perpetual self-conscious embarrassment that I am monolingual and force people out of their native tongue in order to communicate me, so heavy and shameful, now gone!
The price being, I can understand everyone. Everyone. All the time. Now, sitting on the train, waiting for the bus, standing in the Natural History Museum, buying a cup of tea, I am surrounded by the everyday conversations of everyday concerns of everyday people, and I cannot keep all these voices out of my head.
Overwhelmed, and so I am fleeing the city. Tomorrow I'm getting on a bus for Salisbury, and from there to Bath, and from there, who knows. All want is a greater presence of quiet in my world. And then, perhaps some colour, something other than stone in all the shades of civilisation.
I will circle around the west, return to London to pick up my National Insurance Number and bank card, and then make my way north, hopefully closer to a place in which I can stop, and space I can call my own.