Cut and Run

There was a time when I could hit the big reset button. The old cut-and-run. I’ve done it twice.

The first cut-and-run spilled from a brew of friend, girl, jealousy and strangely, a burning will to do the right thing, or at least not the wrong thing.

I cut the two of them out of my life. I just stopped calling. I didn’t return calls. It was like pruning a lemon tree. Faith was required; faith that something – some fruit – would grow back on the empty limbs. I didn’t burn bridges. There were no self-righteous confrontations. I just cut myself off.

I remember weeks of aching loneliness. A big part of my life had been hollowed out. I think my hair started receding. It was stressful. It felt like it took more courage than I had. Alone with my thoughts way too much, undefined in the world. Things got weird.

But into that self-created hole many good things fell. I started a band, I discovered women. I met my future wife. I went exploring. I burst through some psychic wormhole to the other side. The tree had grown back and it was recognisable as me, but it was no longer the same tree.

I wonder if anybody noticed or if people worried about me. I guess not everyone makes it back from dark places.

I had cut-and-run as an act of self-preservation.

I then chose to do it all again and for no exact reason.

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My brothers were all moving on in their lives. I was living with a mate in Northcote. I’d been doing the same jobs for a while. Somebody told me about dot-com riches that could be made in the UK. I had until I turned 28 to have my working holiday visa stamped and I didn’t want to miss out. But mostly, and for no reason I could pinpoint, everything – and everyone – seemed to be giving me the shits.

I made my travel plans in the blink of an eye even though I am crap at that sort of thing! My behaviour was so out of the ordinary. I wasn’t in control. A wild ocean was drawing me in, and I let myself be taken out on the current knowing all the loneliness and craziness it would bring. (You don’t struggle in a rip or you drown.) I woke up having night sweats in the lead up to leaving and when I said goodbye to my housemate I was trying not to cry. I then cut myself off from my world again.

I remember looking at the TV map on the 747-400 as it soared over Uzbekistan and feeling scared shitless and excited all at once. I was going somewhere where nobody knew me and I liked this very much. I was going to an apartment promised me by a guy I’d worked with once, with no job and a few thousand dollars in the bank.

I remember the day I arrived… sweaty… crossing town on the Underground with my bags… my apartment not ready… being put up by the electrician who was working on the apartment…  ripped off by a taxi driver… sleeping on a stretcher in the spare room of a family house…. living with a Danish couple, an Aussie couple and an eccentric landlord… waking up at 4:00am to a blazing summer sun… buying my first tube ticket… taking the tourist doubledecker around town… finding out that poms don’t drink black tea.

I was on my feet quickly. I landed a dot-com job within a fortnight and the Danish couple got kicked out for me. (Apparently their food stunk – pork knuckles or something).

Then, as expected, the loneliness and craziness of self-imposed isolation arrived like old friends. The craziness came as deranged and illogical thoughts. Thoughts that you are alone because you’re a loser, unlikable, that this is your life and nothing good can grow here. Thoughts that to an outsider would seem crazed.

I mean I grew a fucking goatee!

So I filled my life with walking. I walked from Crouch End to Hampstead Heath. Ali Pally. Camden. Dodgy cafes. Dodgy Pubs. Along the river. I lost about 10 kilograms and got chronic back problems but I kept walking. I crowded out my crazed thoughts with continual action.

And as with the first cut-and-run, good things eventually came. I made great friends. I had adventures I will never write down. My career flourished and my future wife joined me in the UK.

I remember seeing her smile as she came through Heathrow Terminal 4. She had a new purple streak in her hair. She was toned and tanned; at least compared to the English! I loved her so fiercely at that point I surprised myself. I couldn’t believe she had put up with all my shit and had flown over!

We ended up working and living together. We travelled to exotic corners of the planet, then finally back home where we got busy building a family.

****************

The cut-and-run. Finding yourself alone amongst strangers. Starting again. Refusing to lie down and give up. Tolerating and beating craziness. Then remarkably finding a way back home, through places never imagined.

Or as my grandma simply used to say, “Things have a way of working out”.

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