Monday will mark one year to the day since I set off for Goa, to begin my adventure of living and working at Purple Valley for the full season. I've already marked 6 months since I returned, so now this is another landmark which gives me cause to stop and think about the experience, or more this time about what has happened since I returned hom.
And I'm not going to lie: it has't exactly been a barrel of laughs.
There have been lots of good things, of course, and the main one of these, the constant, is having moved in with the Frenchman immediately on my return. Although in hindsight, not going back to my home at ALL (except to collect a few bags of clothes, moving out only via the tube, and one bag at a time) probably made the transition a lot trickier than if I had at least returned to my familiar surroundings for a month or two. Though to be honest, who knows...But that's the past, and now here I am, happily cohabiting, figuring out the stuff you figure out when you're both in your 30s and trying to shape your life around another adult human with (strong) preferences and ways of living, so that's all good fun ;)
What has really been the biggest challenge for me is no less than trying to find my place in the world. yup, the biggie. I shouldn't really be surprised by this, given that, if we rewind (easy to do on this blog as the posts are so sparse!) in April 2011 I found myself not working, and instead of panicking I elected to take a "grown-up gap year" to figure out what I wanted to do next. A decade working in various roles within clothing and design businesses, but somehow never moving "up", just sideways, had left me dissatisfied, and I longed for a job that I could be passionate about - something I had probably romanticised but nevertheless I missed. I had ended up in a dead-end street and had no idea where to go next, so the etch-a-sketch approach (shake it all up and start again) seemed like the wisest move. I was toying with various ideas for re-training, going to college, moving in a completely different direction -the problem was that nothing was coming naturally to me in terms of which new direction. So my year off became instead a plan to temp, and then head to Mysore for 3 months to following Spring. And I got the reception job at the shiny yoga centre, had a bit of an existential crisis but overall was happy enough, and I got to spend time in Goa, Mysore and Thailand between January and April 2012.
The fly in the ointment (in some ways) was being offered the Guest Manager job at PV, which happened shortly before I returned from Thailand. This is an "invited" position rather than something you apply for, so while I was flattered I was pretty sure I wasn't going to take it as, let's not forget, my plan was to come back to London and find a "proper" job. Doing something PROPER. And normal. And probably not related to yoga. But then again this seemed like such a wonderful opportunity, so after agonising a bit I accepted the role, and of course I met the Frenchman not a week later, and after over four years of being thoroughly single I fell madly in love (another fly in the ointment) but still, I left for Goa on 21st October 2012. My feeling was that if our relationship was supposed to survive, then this was as good a test as any and, thanks to regular emails, skype and a visit in February, we made it through, and when he collected me from the airport on my return we went straight back to his flat and that was that.
Work wise, I had a few shifts lined up back at shiny yoga HQ, and a gig to do some social media work part-time, so I didn't have to stress immediately. But somehow, over 6 months and several disappointing job interviews later, I am still doing these two things, and a fixed and stable job is no closer to happening. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to have not one but two part-time jobs, and both have their benefits, but with my vata tendencies I crave a fixed routine, and really I need the discipline of having somewhere I need to be, and fixed working hours, not to mention wishing I didn't have to work evenings and weekends. So in it's own way, it's really tough. And even tougher is the disappointment that comes from having interviewed for a handful of jobs which I felt I was really well suited for, only to be told that they hired somebody they already knew, or they felt that I would get bored and move on quickly because I was very ambitious...to say nothing of the applications I have spent time on only to hear nothing back. Make no mistake, it is tough out there.
And all the while, I mostly paint on my happy face, and when people ask me if I'm going back to Goa again, or why am I not, I tell them I don't want to leave the Frenchman again, which is of course true, but really the reason is this: coming home was too fucking difficult. And it still is.
This weekend the Frenchman has been away, and I have been emailing back and forth with my beloved co-guest manager from last year as she made the long journey from Sweden to Goa to do her second season. Knowing that two out of our team of four would be returning this year makes it feel a lot harder knowing that I will not be there. It's almost surreal knowing that she is there now, as I sit in London writing this, and that she is settling in and helping to get the centre ready for the first retreat which begins next weekend. And the ways things currently stand I'm not even going to be able to afford to go and visit during the season.
I don't use the word lightly, but I have spent the past 6 months dipping in and out of depression, and the Frenchman has had a lot of tears to put up with. And it would have been the easiest thing in the world (finances aside) for me to take off somewhere again, to have applied for Mysore or agreed to go back to Goa, rather than sticking it out here and trying to put some roots down. But at the age of 35 there are other things I want, and a stable and happy relationship is one of them, and fulfilling and satisfying work is another. Going away again would jeopardise the first one, and make the second move even further out of my reach. Even in my yoga practice (hell, this is a yoga blog afterall) I have not only stayed in one place since coming back from Goa, but my teacher took away (gradually) the new poses I had been given by various teachers during my time there, so now I am back doing primary and second through to kapotasana, and suffering on a daily basis. Clearly the universe has one big lesson for me: it's time to sit with what you have, and not run away from it again. Because how can you build anything stable when you keep moving around?
"...an Indian master, when asked what advice he had for Westerners seeking enlightenment, said:
'Stay where you are'
So, for now at least, that is exactly what I intend to do.