Well I promised I would write when I felt like writing. And today, for the first time in months, I suddenly did.
So what’s new? Simultaneously everything and nothing, it seems. When I wrote my last blog post I was on a work placement in London. It was an exciting, buzzing, busy time and I came home bursting with the desire to move there permanently, chase some kind of dream and immerse myself fully in everything that London has to offer. But then I got back to Edinburgh, life took off at a gallop once again and all of a sudden London felt like some kind of dream, a holiday romance that didn’t look quite so appealing in the cold light of day. I need easy access to open spaces. I need to be within a 4 hour train ride of my family. I need to be somewhere I can escape from easily. I need to be able to walk to almost every place I need to go. Edinburgh gives me all of those things, and more. London just can’t. And plus, I love it here – I always have.
So with feet still planted firmly in the capital, life went on. In April I took a week off work, hired a car and drove it all the way up to the top of Scotland, just me and a stack of my favourite CDs. I walked on beaches, drank coffee and ate brownies in tiny little cafes and drove with the windows down and the sun blasting in, music up to full volume, emergency braking every now and then to get out and take a photo of a pretty sunset or a baby lamb. It was a wonderfully freeing, footloose experience that I’d wholeheartedly encourage anyone to try for themselves. Just go! Just hire a car and see where it takes you! In fact, stop reading this and go now!
Ahem. In May I ran a half marathon on the island of Tiree and completely bowled myself over by being fourth girl to finish the race in 1 hour 49 minutes and 55 (unbelievably painful!) seconds. Finishing that race taught me something vitally important about myself that I had never really appreciated before: I am not a quitter. I guess I already kind of knew this about myself (everyone who survives law school knows this about themselves to some extent) but even so, running that race worked some kind of amazing alchemy on my self-belief – the bit that needs proof. When I first took up running, a year before, I couldn’t go for more than five minutes without dissolving into a mess of spluttering and stitches on the side of the road. Remember? I wrote about it here. But I kept going. And after two months I could run 5k. I kept going. After six months I could run 10k. I kept going. After a year, I could run the 21k it takes to finish a half marathon. All because I kept going. I kept going when it hurt, I kept going when I blistered, I kept going when I was tired, I kept going when I was feeling miserable. I kept going that rainy, stormy Saturday on Tiree, when my legs felt so weak I thought they would buckle underneath me. At 12.5 miles, when I caught sight of my friends at the finish line, waiting for me in the freezing cold, waving and clapping and cheering me on to the finish, I finally realised that I knew – I’d known all along – how to keep going. One foot in front of the other and repeat. It literally is as simple as that. I stumbled across the finish line and fell, face first, into the sand, almost crying with relief.
And then June happened. June was fraught with all kinds of tension. I was preparing for a job interview, I was waiting on a baby to arrive and I was frustrated and depressed at work. I stopped sleeping, I had no energy for exercise, I cancelled dates with friends and I moped around feeling miserable day after day after day after day. I couldn’t shift it: all of the usual things I do to make myself feel better I either didn’t have the energy for or weren’t working their usual magic. There was nothing for it but to grit my teeth and hope it would pass. And, of course, as with most hard, horrible, difficult things, it eventually did. I didn’t mess up the interview (well, I don’t know that for sure yet, but fingers crossed!). My baby nephew arrived, two weeks overdue but healthy and well and gorgeous. I took a fortnight off work and went to the Swiss Alps and hiked for 8 days in a row, up higher than I’d ever been before. Snowy mountains, clear skies, meadows full of wild flowers and a routine consisting of eating, sleeping and walking proved just the right relief after such a busy and stressful month. I came home tanned and exhausted, but in a good way. I spent some days at home with my family, walking on the beach, squishing my new nephew and sleeping so deeply each night that even a mob of rowdy seagulls right outside my window didn’t cause me any trouble.
And here we are in July. Somewhere in among all that stuff, I’ve climbed 28 more Munros, taken part in a 3am spinning session (for charity, not just for kicks) and taken up (read: got seriously addicted to) indoor climbing.
So what next? Well, for a start, hopefully there will be a positive outcome to June’s interview and I’ll qualify into a “real” lawyer job in the public sector – effectively what I’ve been working towards for the past nine years. I also want to be a good Auntie to my nephew and a better friend to all the wonderful people I’m lucky enough to have in my life. I want to write more letters, climb more hills, go to French class, go camping and learn to swim front crawl. I want to be outside more than I’m inside, to run another half marathon and better my time, to stop checking Facebook so often, to bake more cupcakes, eat more apples and save more money. I want to go to Skye, I want to sign up for an allotment and I want to volunteer more regularly.
Some of these things I reckon I’ll do, others will undoubtedly fall by the wayside. But life is a work in progress, right? It wouldn’t be half as exciting and challenging as it is if we had it all, just like that. We should never run out of things we want to achieve, places we want to go, books we want to read. There’s a deep joy, a real pleasure to be had in getting your head down and working, steadfastly beating a rhythm towards seeing your ideas and your aspirations through, in making them into real, actual things that you’ve really, actually done, and enjoying every second of it. Those are the things we’ll look back on when we’re old and grey and (in my case) when my knees have finally given up and are refusing to let me climb anything else. Having said that, there’s also a magic in not doing too much planning. Some of the best fun I’ve had over the past six months has been the stuff that’s happened that I’ve not anticipated or mapped out in advance: the spontaneous walks, the impromptu nights out, the unplanned adventures that have taken on a life of their own and landed me up somewhere I never expected to be, whether that’s on top of a mountain, holding a six foot-long albino python (I did, it was terrifying) or drinking beers in a tiny bar in Manchester in the wee small hours of a Fridaymorning, screeching out every last word to the Sugarhill Gang like my very life has depended on it.