Read time: just a few minutes. Maybe time for a swift espresso (yes, with an “s”, not an “x”, because that’s how it should be spelled…) if you fancy it. Or a shot of tequila – you know, whatever floats your boat. This is more of a preview than a full post, so read, enjoy, and look forward to something more meaty and more aesthetically pleasing soon once I properly start this next mini-adventure.
So, it’s the end of April. I’ve discovered that that is a tough time each year – the exhaustion from working hard for five months has set in so deeply, you feel it in your bones. People are leaving all around you, the weather in Verbier is turning sour, that itching wanderlust kicks in once again and you start looking around for new adventures. For me personally, I feel I especially need them this year. It’s been a strange season…injury has meant less skiing than any other season, somehow an early desire to work less has translated into actually working more than previous years, and my standard (albeit massively frustrating) mental cycle of ups and downs seems to have got stuck on the lower end of the spectrum. Despite having met one of the most amazing people I can remember for a very long time, and having that incredible person by my side for much of the time, I have been fighting especially hard this spring just to keep my mood positive, and not always succeeding. It has honestly been the best season I’ve yet had, or in some ways could hope to have, but it’s just been a bit taxing too.
So in certain respects – that of being terrified of losing someone who dances through my dreams nightly and daily, that of spending time with some of my best friends – I don’t want the season to end…ever…but in others, I’m very happy to be escaping (and it does feel particularly like an escape this year, especially from work) and changing my scenery – and with it, trying to address my mindset and outlook properly. A little day-trip to Champex-Lac a couple of weeks ago was a welcome change of scenery and pace, just to see something different, and helped begin the process of alleviating the season’s built-up stresses. A few days in France now chez mes parents are lovely for reconnecting, for catching up, for eating and drinking well, for relaxing and recovering lost sleep, but it seems they’re not so good for taking my mind off things. But, in the spirit of being positive, let’s move past that. After a couple of days here, even now sitting and looking out at the pouring rain, I really do feel relaxed in a way I’ve not done since very early in the winter, and it’s clearly something I needed.
And from here, I have some more adventurous adventuring lined up – for the first time in much too long, I’m actually visiting somewhere completely new, really doing some exploring instead of just trying to use up the time, and I find it hard to express how excited I am about that! It’s all very well thinking “it’s time to stop these shenanigans and settle down”, but when you really don’t want to settle down yet, it’s a struggle to get fired up about it, and conversely, when you take the decision to put off settling and actually put some fun plans in place, it’s a weight off the shoulders and a breath of fresh air. This blog got its name for a reason, and one of the biggest lessons – or rather, reminders – that I’ve had this season is that we need to do what makes us happy, not necessarily what we think society expects or we “should” do, and for me that almost always leads to more travel, more exploration, more new people, more connections, learning something about the world, about others, about myself.
On the cards for this spring are Slovenia – just a few days, first in Ljubljana and then Bled – and then Georgia for five weeks of Russian classes and exploration, based in Batumi. Both places look fascinating – from what I’ve been told by a very wise muse (and which has been confirmed by my pre-trip travel planning), Slovenia is stunning, particularly the Jurian Alps and Bled area. I know virtually nothing about the place other than what I’ve uncovered in the last couple of days online, and I’m happy with that. In fact I’ve decided to stop investigating any further – I’ve only a few days there anyway, so it will be nice to just go, a few ideas in mind but nothing concrete, and see what happens and where I end up. But, having looked at Bled and the surrounding areas, unless there’s a typhoon – and maybe still even then – some hiking will definitely be part of the plan.
Then, I’m on to Georgia. While I’d originally planned to spend the time in Russia itself, studying, delays and passport issues meant missing visa deadlines, which now looks to have been a happy accident, as Georgia also looks to be a fascinating place. Although only briefly, I have been to Russia a couple of times before, whereas I’ve never visited Georgia and know even less about it than about Slovenia. It remains to be seen how much my Russian will improve there, but it should be a rewarding experience, whatever happens. May being a fairly quiet time there for Russian tourists means that I should have more free time (in the busier summer period, there are more classes and organised trips available) to explore anything and everything that looks interesting to me and hopefully really get to know the place. I shall be based in the city of Batumi, on the Black Sea coast, and it looks to be surrounded by incredible nature and views and sites just waiting to be discovered. Staying with a host family should mean my Russian at least makes some decent progress outside the classes, and will also mean I won’t be searching for a roof or for human contact in the first days – and, all being well, some shared interests will lead to being friends as opposed to just host and guest.
Neither of these places had previously been on my “to see” lists, but both now look like they very well should have been, so I can’t wait to get started and see what I discover. In the grand scheme of things, this is a very short trip – one of the shortest “proper” trips I’ve ever made – but it’s the longest I’ve done in several years now, and that really excites me (no, not in that way, you filthy sod). My heart is in a strange place at the moment – it’s buoyed up like a garish helium balloon on a flimsy string with all the pleasant vibes from the ski season, the good friendships strengthened, the catharsis I always feel from being in the mountains, and particularly with the beautiful memories of smiles and experiences and happiness and intimacy with my favourite person over the last months… At the same time it’s an intensely big and heavy weight – like trying to take a fat dog for a walk, except the dog is actually the moon, and I’m trying to just drag it around on a lead, because I feel a hole there from ending everything – hopefully not permanently, we shall find out – and feeling that lightness and joy she brought to each moment now missing. But with these plans now about to begin, I can feel the good energy bubbling and building inside me once again the more I think about it – about being free, about doing what I love, about seeing new places, meeting new people, creating new connections, learning new skills or mindsets, reading (and writing) a few more pages of the book of life. It’s a balance, to live in the present, in the moment, while absolutely not forgetting the wonders of the past, and not losing hope for the future. Looking to that future, always moving forward, but not letting that take away from the joy of the present. Enjoying the now, making the most of each day on this amazing planet and, piece by piece, seeing more of its wonders, and hopefully sharing this experience, joy and happiness again one day soon. This is what it’s all about.