A ten minute walk from the house and we’re very much in the English countryside. It’s taken a lot of nerve and effort to finally walk rather than drive. It was an interesting late-afternoon. The walking part is always interesting. Walking will never be as straightforward as it may look. It’s a balancing act that I’m not very good at, but crossing the road and stepping out of the town is most definitely worth the effort. It went pretty well on the journey out, but when we decided to cut across a field with sheep rather than to turn back, I should’ve perhaps explained that I’m not that fond of sheep. I grew up with easy access to farms and I vividly remember sheep being twice my size with a tendency to gravitate towards me as if I was a blade of grass. I also recall trying to bottle-feed lambs and almost having half my arm devoured by hungry not-so-little mouths.Stupid, I know, and that’s why we didn’t turn around. I’m not afraid of a dozen sheep. That’d be silly.
Climbing over the wooden stile into the field was a careful execution that I pulled off very well if I say so myself. Landing in the field was exactly what I expected and as Chris hopped over I took a couple of deep breaths and thought of not panicking. I wasn’t always one hair’s-breadth away from the next wave of anxiety. Life used to be interesting and fun and I grew up climbing trees, riding motorbikes and well, feeding baby sheep bottles of milk when we went to drop off the stray cats I had named and tamed to become farm cats. The panic and fear silently grew and multiplied as little things went very wrong along the way and the world became a dangerous and unpredictable place and I got smaller and smaller. I don’t want to spend my life living in a smaller and smaller box just because it feels safer. And so, with that thought, we walked into the field. I can’t deny shrieking a little and doing the whole girly squeal routine whilst keeping Chris squarely in between me and the sheep. I also won’t deny clambering over the next wooden stile haphazardly enough to screw up not one, but three joints in the process. “Shall I fetch the car?”, Chris tried to keep a straight face as I was agonizingly slowly putting joints back together. “Nope,” was a given. I limped home, slowly and painfully, or possibly I was half-dragged home dangling on Chris’ arm whilst he smirked at me. We got lost back in suburbia.
“It looks as if the planner took a can of spaghetti and dumped it on paper”, Chris says as we entered yet another dead-end street. “It looks as if he, or she, was high”, I mutter, “or both”. “Mhm,” Chris sighs, “What’s wrong with a good old grid system?”. Three cul de sac’s later and we finally find ours. Another life lesson learned and it’s not ‘don’t go for a walk’; it’s not even ‘don’t climb over wooden stiles into sheepy fields’, it’s more ‘take better care of yourself’. We got home, I pulled out of tonight’s raid, took a hot bath to help get joints back in and settled on the couch for a quiet evening. There was a time when I would’ve pushed onwards regardless until I was emotionally exhausted and physically collapsed. It was not so long ago. But life isn’t a race and I don’t have anything to be afraid of. What happens will happen and we’ll deal with it as best we can when it does.