Time out: travel and friendship

Why there’s no better therapy than time out with friends

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 17.23.50For me, one of life’s greatest pleasures is to take 24 hours out of my usual schedule to go on a trip. Mainly I go to see one of my old female friends. It’s great to catch up – I am always so excited to find out how life is really treating them, what new insights they have, what new challenges, hopes, dreams or fears, and to hear their crop of funny or outrageous stories.

But, equally, these trips are about catching up with myself, and finding out what’s really happening to me.

It starts with the journey, preferably by train; transition time. The journey into a new physical space, but also a journey into a new headspace. Just me, en route. No interruptions. Just thinking time, reading and writing time, or, best of all…nothing time. Nothing at all time.

The arrival comes next. Smiles, hugs, happiness. Excited exchange of news, sometimes gifts. Lovely, lovely, lovely. But the best is still to come.

When the question finally comes, that is when the magic happens.

“So, how are you?”

Unformulated feelings, ideas and hopes, which have been circling, dipping and diving chaotically around my brain like uncatchable swallows, suddenly line up on the telephone line in neat order and I find out what I’m really thinking, what I’m really hoping. The need to make sense to others imposes discipline, helps me make sense of myself. Disparate impressions, intuitions and insights finally blend into sentences, and are heard for the first time in the external world, exposed little newborns.

My old friends are kindly midwives. Viable newborns are cleaned up and fed, weaker newborns are treated and nurtured, and those not long for this life are humanely dealt with and buried with dignity. Sometimes octuplets arrive all at once, tumbling out, and the midwives sort and categorise, and put in a care plan for them all. Kind, caring support, not just for the mother, but for the fruits of her busy head.

And so, with my mind tidied up, I can make the journey home (transition time again), during which I pack up the wonders of my trip and give thanks for the new energy and direction I feel.

On the way home, I marvel at the elasticity of time. These 24 hours away are never like 24 hours at home. Time expands in space and I truly believe that, if I travel more, I will live longer – perhaps not in terms of days and months, but in every sense that matters.

And, while I marvel, I bask in the miracle of friendship and the power of communicating with my wonderful female friends.

Maggie Steel

About Maggie Steel

Diagnosed recently with late onset feminism. Teacher who thinks the world could do better. Trying to make a difference at the margins. When all else fails I eat cake.