Looking Forward, Looking Back | Kay Green – on her travels

Kay Green

The adventures of a single woman

Yorkshire lass Kay Green,who has started a new life as a single woman aged 50, continues to record her thoughts in her series Shoulders Back, Deep Breaths as she prepares to leave Huddersfield and start her world tour in New Zealand.

Monday 23rd February; the date that’s been in my mind since September last year when I booked the flights for my trip. Each and every Monday since then I’ve been counting down the weeks and now there are so few left it should be the days I’m calculating, in fact by the time you read this I probably will be.

I can already feel myself starting to say goodbye to things. It’s like I’m looking with different eyes; a new vision, one filled with excitement but tinged with sadness. I’m going to miss this place, I’m going to miss the extraordinary cast of characters I have in my life; those people who make up my ‘normal’, whether they are my everyday special people or my text buddies I see every now and then.

I’m going to miss living with David and Del – my brother and his wife – who have been my guardian angels since I moved in with them in April last year. They gave me a home and support when I needed it. I’ll miss Del, I’ll miss our conversations, the gentle groove we’ve established between us, the intimacy we have, the way she makes me laugh so much. She knows all my secrets, knows all my thoughts and feelings, often without me having to say anything to her at all. How can I possibly keep that going via Skype or FaceTime? How will I be able to make sense of some of the confusion I feel about things without her to talk to, when we’re cooking or chilling or I’m giving her a lift somewhere?

Who will I be able to have the shorthand conversations with, like I do my brother? The ones that come from knowing each other all of our lives, the familiarity between us that has grown deeper the more time we’ve spent together under the same roof. I get an amazing amount of comfort from that. I know I drive him up the wall sometimes and his ‘you crazy woman’ eye-rolling skills are of a gold medal standard since I moved in with them. I love him for it. I love them both.

I’m blessed with my friends and family. They have been the backbone of my new life; they still will be while I’m away, I know that much. They’ll be the people I carry with me wherever I am, they’ll never be far from my thoughts. I know I’m not going forever and that a year goes so quickly. It will more than likely be time to come home before I know it, but I also know that when you take yourself away from somewhere the space that you used to fill soon disappears, the gap that you leave in other people’s lives gets smaller. There will be things that happen that will never involve me, daft stuff, everyday stuff, things that would have made me throw my head back and laugh out loud, or occasions where I could have offered comfort or help in some way. Being so far away from home will mean I lose the minutiae of the things that are important to the ones I love so much. It’s that kind of thing I’ll miss. It’s my choice to do this, I’m excited by my future and I don’t mean to seem ungrateful or regretful for my decision to go, because I’m not.

While I have the list of names of those I’m leaving behind in my head and heart, I have the anticipation of the new people I’m going to meet. As I sit at the kitchen table in my home in Huddersfield and write this, they are busy going about their lives doing what they do; making decisions that will lead them to be in the same place at the same time as me, creating the opportunity for our paths to cross.

Who knows yet who they are or what influence they’ll have on me and my life? They’re a whole new collection of names and faces that I’ll meet and like, respect or love. I’ll have the opportunity to touch their lives and they mine.

This is what travelling is about for me, it’s not just the places I’ll see, it’s the people I’ll meet, each with their own story to tell, each with a memory to create for me and vice versa. My trip is more than the miles I’ll travel and the hours spent on planes to get to my destination; it’s the chance to sit and watch the world go by.

I’m a keen observer of people, of the way they interact with each other, it fascinates me. When I was away in September last year I spent a lot of time at arrivals and departures; train and bus stations, airports, the places that you’re forced to sit and wait for someone to decide it’s time for you to move on. These are ideal locations to observe and not be observed, perfect for me to watch the excited hellos and the sad goodbyes, the things and emotions that make life what it is; bittersweet.

Just before Christmas I had a bit of a meltdown. I was with my mum at the time. There were lots of tears and sobbing involved; it was awful but it was cathartic. Another layer of my old life stripped away. I knew that as soon as she saw my dad she’d tell him what had happened and I dreaded him asking me if I was OK. I didn’t want to see the worry in his eyes as he watched me cry again and I knew I would if he asked me. He’s a very clever man, my dad; instead of enquiring after my state of mind he waited until later when we were sitting together in front of the TV and he played me something he had recorded for me. As the programme started, images of the Australian coast sprang to life. The places that I have huge desire to see were there for me; the longing to travel gripped me again. He had done the best thing he could for me; he had given me a reason to stop looking back and to start looking forwards. He showed me my future.

The day after, I finally got round to organising our accommodation in Christchurch, the place we start our New Zealand road trip. When it was done I called in to see them, told them it was booked. As we looked at each other, the spark of excitement was almost visible, our smiles fed off each other. We’re on our way. This dream is now a reality and it gets closer by the day. I know my mum already is already dreading the fact that at the end of our 10 weeks together they’ll have to leave me in Australia and fly home. I know the pain we’ll feel when we part is inevitable but for now that’s too far in the future to think about. What we need to do is embrace each day; the days that lead up to our trip and every day of our time together while we’re there.

I wish there was a way for me to let you feel the swell of excitement I have in my chest for this adventure. I wish I could describe the breathlessness I have when the anticipation of it overtakes me, but I can’t and I’m sorry I can’t. What I can do though is promise you an honest insight into how this time unfolds for me. Expect a ‘Northern Life’ postcard in April!


Read Kay Green’s blog at shouldersbackdeepbreaths.com

Twitter @MsKayGreen1

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