Tag Archives: island life

What am I doing here?

I read an article recently which really hit home, about whether being away makes your world better and how easy it is to feel that the grass is greener, the sun sunnier.
I totally agreed with it. In many ways.. but!

It made me start wondering whether being here, in mostly sunny Portugal, is making my world better. And if so, how? and why?

Last week some nasty logicthief snuck into my room and stole a chunk of my brain. Everything was horrid, nothing made sense and I spun into a mean little vortex of feeling lost and alone that got me thinking about going ‘home’ and whether I wanted to and what I would do and then questioning why I was here and what I wanted and what I’m doing and what AM I DOING?!

I think I’ve figured it out.

I’m figuring out what I want to do. That’s what I’m doing here.

I’m also avoiding the feeling of suffocation that comes with living in a small community.
When a friend suggested that I share a link to this blog on a website from ‘home’ about Islanders who are away from The Island, a shudder ran through me at the thought of all those people* reading my posts and knowing my business.
For me, that’s one of the many reasons that, for the moment at least, the grass is greener here.
There are none of those people* here.

I wrote a list of how many people I know in Portugal (total 26) and it made me smile, that’s a bit weird isn’t it? But I love it – I’m not associated with anyone or anything. I have no history. That brings with it an immense feeling of freedom.

What else am I doing here?

I’m enjoying the mild temperature and more reliable sunshine.
I am a sunshine creature (that sentence makes me want to write a jaunty little song and make up a dance routine in the style of The Nolans).
I don’t like dark nights and cold wet mornings. They make me feel depressed.
Of course there have been (and will undoubtedly be many more) moments here when I feel depressed. Living in Portugal isn’t transforming me into a constantly smiling, relaxed and superjubilant being who’s able to shrug off a bad mood or ignore irritations.
But I can have a grumpy day without anyone telling me to cheer up, be grateful for what I have and think of others who are far worse off.

I can be myself. I don’t feel pressure to conform to anything or anyone’s expectations of me.

I can surf if I want to, in warmer water than I could in Jersey, with no boots or gloves or hood.
I’m still wearing my 3mm suit and wondering whether to sell my winter suit because I really don’t think I’m going to need it.
And there are so many choices of beaches and breaks and coasts and points and hardly anyone in the water on weekdays.
I’m a fussy surfer** and I hate crowds*** so having such a choice of places to go works out for me reeeally nicely. (I could possibly find words to express that more eloquently but reeeeeally nicely will do.)
And guess what else?!
Surfing makes me ridiculously happy, deep down, inside, wholly totally wonderfully happy (for at least the preceding 24 hours, if not longer.)
Even if I’m not a superhotbrilliantsurfingmachine and I’m scared of big heavy waves and I’m a bit clumsy so I injure myself regularly (my board broke my nose a few weeks ago, which served me right for dropping it in the car park the previous day) surfing makes my world feel better and brighter. 

That was a great big chunk of the page on surfing, hey. I feel like I should attach a photo of me surfing to justify the content of this post but I don’t have any. I have one of Nina B, who bears a spooky resemblance to me, or I have a couple of my shadow or my back or my silhouette with my bum sticking out (thanks for that PWD), but I’m going to have to just attach a wave picture cos that’ll serve better.
Here’s a lovely perfect-gail-size-wave-day at Cordoama.

Post-surf wave pic.
The day before my new friend made me lunch – if you haven’t heard that story already I’ll tell you it another time. It’s a good one.

There are lots of other things that are making my current world an easier place for me to be
– I’m living with an exceptionally patient and easy-going family who leave me alone when they can see I want to be left.
– I can survive comfortably on my savings with a stupidly small budget in exchange for working between 20-35 hours a week (it varies but average is probably about 28)
– I have time. to write. and breathe. and sit. and idle. and think. and read.
– I can drive for miles without going round in circles.
– I don’t have bills or paperwork or dull responsible grown-up stuff.

There are people I miss. There are days I’d love to see my son for a rib-crushing bear-hug (he crushes mine, not the other way round – he thinks he’s funny.)
There are evenings when I want to call one of my friends to meet for a beer.
I can’t pop round to my parents’ house and raid their fridge.
I haven’t seen my niece, except on Facetime, for 4 months and she’s growing fast. I don’t know how long it’ll be till I see her but I’m missing out on her formative years.
I don’t have a shed here (yet).

But it’s not enough to make me want to return.
I needed to get away from Jersey and while I could ramble on for hours about why, the BIG ONE, the reason that I remember when I fancy thai in the shed or a tree-planting snot-dangling competition or a spot of mikey-dancing (huhu hullo madam) is that for some inexplicable reason, I never really felt like it fitted.

Right here, right now, fits.

*all those people – I say it with a shudder. They are all those people who know who I am, but don’t know me. Those people who know my brother or my son or my parents or my friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend’s sister’s current husband’s boss or one of my ex-colleagues or previous library ‘customers’ or eeeeurgh it’s making me tense.

**fussy surfer – unless I’m absolutely desperate to get in the water, I only really want to surf waist to head-high waves that are glassy and clean and only really on sunny days with a gentle breeze at most and not with other people or crowds*** [shudder]. If I was an ambitious surfer I’d surf anything and if I was a passionate surfer I’d always be in the water no matter what but I’m a fussy lazy surfer; it suits me just fine and means less people in the onshore slop for you passionate and ambitious surfers so don’t tell me to change. I hate it when people tell me I should get in the water no matter what cos otherwise I’ll never get any better at surfing. I don’t need to get better cos I’m quite happy catching little waves on sunny days so errrr. Gosh I nearly swore. See how annoying you ambitious surfers can be?

*** crowds – a crowd for me consists of more than 8 people. Now I know that’s not technically a crowd, but it makes me feel crowded therefore I will continue to refer to more than 8 people as a crowd. I hate crowds.
Now go back and click on the post-surf pic to make it bigger and count the people in the water 🙂  Aaaah that was a beautiful day.