Sipping coffee opposite the illuminated TV screen on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the dog sleeping in her bed and my grandmother’s hand-made quilt over my post-shower perfumed lap, a strange feeling came over me. I felt a sense of surrealism, disbelief at what is my present life. My feet, though firm on the sofa, felt as if they couldn’t reach ground, as though they couldn’t grip reality.
Two days ago I made my return from a week in Barcelona. In this foreign, urban, exciting land I experienced relative freedom. The money that I had saved for a year funded this week, cementing my independence, and it was I who controlled my own movements, my own nourishment, my own adventures. I spent it in the company of my friends, without supervision, just us. Alone. Independent.
In a week and a half’s time, I’ll be making my way to a festival in North Wales with some friends, camping and drinking to the screaming chords of electric guitars and the not-so-harmonious shouts of lead singers. Again I will be free. For four days, I will once again experience a form of personal freedom.
A week after that, my A level results will be placed in my hand, with the decision of where I will be spending the next four years of my life. Uncertainty clouds this day. Fear and helplessness has pinpointed the date, the 13th of August, in my crazed brain, haunting my dreams.
Frustration at having to work and having to wait for any certainty about my future is slowly killing me. My upcoming week is crazy: I’m volunteering tomorrow, I have another voluntary induction on Tuesday, the dentist on Thursday, work on Friday and Saturday, my grandmother and my mother arriving on that same day and volunteering again on Monday. I guess cramming my life is one way of dealing with the lack of control I have presently.
Barcelona made me realise that I need to travel once I leave university. It sounds so cliché, but I need to have a taste of different cultures for my own self-satisfaction. I want to see France, Italy, but also the East. I want to see India, Pakistan, Eastern Turkey, Syria, down to northern Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine and Israel. I want to buy one of those scratch map posters and be able to scratch off areas that I never imagined I’d see. Slovakia and Slovenia, Australasian islands, even as near home as Scotland and Ireland. I want to work for a year and then experience everything these countries can offer me. I’m just gagging for excitement and for adventure. If I were a man, I would do it right now, take a year out and do it. But, as early morning Barcelona showed me, being a lone 18-year-old girl traveller would not be a safe option.
Perhaps it is this new-found dream of another life that fuels my dissatisfaction in my own. Until that unsavoury date, August the 13th, comes knocking, I don’t know what’s ahead of me. I’m scared but I cannot wait for the imminent independence which I hope this date will bring.