Life can get seriously weird

I know you haven’t heard from me for a while. Sorry. Life has kind of taken over, of late, and so much has happened that I don’t even know where to begin. Let me start, then, by advising you to do what I didn’t do for a long time: change the passwords on your online accounts. Knowing someone has been reading your emails makes you feel sullied and filthy. Do all you can to prevent that happening, no matter who you think you trust.

I have come out of everything a far stronger person than even I thought I could be. Perhaps I underestimated myself. Certainly someone did. With the help of my friends, my a-ha party ‘experience’ and subsequent glorious nights, my kung fu instructor and of course my beloved mum and dad, I’ve been through some shit but I’ve come out the other side. I’m more emotionally balanced than I’ve been for years (crying through giggles rather than the other sort), I’ve been putting more effort into my training – though the fact my instructor has been pushing us hard this month has had a lot to do with that – and I’ve been making plans.

At the weekend, an old friend is coming to London for a festival, so on Sunday we’re meeting up. It’s been more than three years and it’s been so good to catch up after a quiet time that I’m bound to cry when I see her and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did, too. There are two sides to every story. In her case, I only had someone else’s, so to get hers was enlightening and not altogether surprising. I can’t go into more detail – this is someone else’s private life, not mine – but when someone tells you a friend of yours has changed so much you wouldn’t recognise them, remember to hold that doubt in your head, because it will often be right. People do change, of course, but not suddenly, like the flick of a switch. Change happens gradually. (As an unrelated example, my body shape changed during the course of my training, slowly but noticeably – I went from being slightly self-conscious about it to thinking, actually, I have a great body, why should I not show it off?) A hug will be the first thing – long and protracted, no doubt – and then we’ll find somewhere to go for coffee. And eye up hot men.

The following Thursday night, I’ll be on a coach to northern Scotland. Inverness, to see my gorgeous and talented best friend. I haven’t seen her in even longer, to my eternal shame, but now is the time to do it. A cheap fare up there helps, of course, but I need to see her now. So much has happened. And going to Inverness, where I used to live and where I met said bestie, will be a way for me to brush off a few cobwebs, breathe some fresh highland air and get in touch with the part of my soul I left behind when I moved away. Were it not for my kung fu, and knowing I have the best instructor I could have, I would be making more plans – plans to move back up there and finally settle. But kung fu has become such a massive part of my life, of my personality even, that I can’t do that, now. I’d miss it too much. I miss Inverness – every day – but I can go back. Now I know how cheaply I can do that, I can go back every year (or I’d better have a bloody good excuse not to). This time, I’m going when my instructor’s second camp is taking place, for which I am in a bit of trouble (sore point, I guess you could say), but he does know I need to do this as he’s been with me through everything and would never begrudge me this break away. Even though it does clash with his camp. Whoops. I’m planning to take so much up there for her – yummy coffee from Greenwich Market, Brighton rock, a couple of books – that I’ll be lucky if I have room enough in my suitcase for clothes. She has advised me to bring wellies and a waterproof as well as summer clothes. This is Scotland, after all, with its beautifully erratic, four-seasons-in-an-hour weather. The waterproof I have was bought years ago in Fort William – where it Seriously Rains (yes, the capital letters are deliberate) – so it should cope with Inverness rain well enough.

Tonight, I’m going training (more punishment!), then staying at Matt’s overnight (so I can stay for patterns class – coming back here, I’d have to miss out, as the last train is stupidly early). Tomorrow, I’m meeting a couple of friends – separately – in Brighton. This will no doubt involve talking. A lot. And probably coffee. I’m still aching from training last week, the weekend and Monday. The more I ache, the more I should indeed train, to force my body to do what I need it to do. Can’t let it make me give up or find excuses. I love training too much, anyway. A lot of people just drop off for whatever reason and I fail to understand why they might do that. Some leave because they have no choice – that’s fair enough – but living in London and still only going once a week or not going for weeks on end, or stopping training entirely – why? Why would you do that to yourself? Kung fu has literally changed who I am, for the better. I suppose that, for some, it doesn’t take over quite as much, it doesn’t become as important as it has to me, or other things get in the way despite wanting to go training more. I know that happens. But when I started more than three years ago, I had every intention of continuing, right from the start. Now I’ve moved away from London and even Brighton, I still make that journey. One of the juniors (no sash) said to me the other day, are there no martial arts clubs down this way? Of course, I said, but for me to go to another club – most specifically, another instructor – would be unthinkable. It isn’t that I don’t like change – if I didn’t, right now I’d be royally fucked, frankly – but I know well where I’m best off, and this club is amazing.

So, time for me now to sort stuff out before I go this afternoon. Catch ya later.

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