Recently Ady and I were chatting about life here on Rum, on our croft. About readjusting expectations, taking stock of what we have achieved, admitting to the challenges and the things we have not yet managed to make happen. Ady speculated that we have about 80% of everything we ever wanted right here. It prompted me to go and look out the list of hopes and dreams that the four of us made way back when we set off on our WWOOFing adventure nearly five years ago.
Around the same time I was talking to a friend here on Rum about what we had come to accept here and what still niggled at me. I mentioned that living in a caravan was never part of my ambitions and plans and she corrected me saying “you don’t live in a caravan. You live on your croft”.
In the back of my mind I have been pondering on those thoughts and while we were off last week we all got the opportunity to indulge in the very things which we always list as missing from our lives here. We had unlimited wifi and power, access to tv with multiple channels, a bath, fast food, 24 hour supermarkets. Within reason for a five day period last week we could have everything we wanted, whenever we wanted.
To an extent we did. We went to supermarkets, watched TV, had baths, plugged in to the internet, indulged in ready meals and fast food. But very quickly we found it all rather lacking. We turned the TV off, hankered after home cooked food, cut short our supermarket shopping trip and on the last night I didn’t even bother having a bath. It all wore thin very, very quickly. It felt empty, meaningless and without substance. It felt artificial, ill gotten and undeserved somehow. The excess packaging of the fast food and the havoc it played with our unused to such foodstuff digestive systems meant we found it unappealing the next day. The supermarket felt soulless and the reduced to clear items priced at pennies were offensive. We flicked through endless channels on the TV finding nothing worth watching and the internet novelty wore off once we had gone past our usual couple of hours a day timeslot. It began to feel meaningless and disposable. We all felt rather like we were on WALL:E – super evolved humans who no longer need to walk, or eat real food, or do anything at all really, merely sit captive while everything we *need* is delivered to us on a plate.
I know we live an extreme version of western world life. Having existed in that world for almost all of my life so far I also know that we feel far more comfortable here doing this than we do back in that life.
So back to that bath then. Really? Me, who craves a bath so much that friends here on Rum have offered use of their bath as a birthday gift to me before now? Me who used to bath as a recreational hobby turning down the opportunity to have a bath when one was right there. Glass of wine and bowl of peanuts on the side, hot and filled with scented bubbles, peace and quiet and a book to read, warm fluffy towels waiting for when I get out and then just pjs, a sofa and TV to relax afterwards. Well yes. I spent some time in the bath I did have thinking and pondering on Great Baths I Have Known. I didn’t always love baths you see. My love affair began when Ady and I bought our first house together. I was 20 and worked full time, doing loads of overtime to help pay the mortgage, the bills and contribute to doing up the house. Evenings, weekends and days off were spent stripping wallpaper, sanding floors, sorting out the garage and the garden, painting walls, building a home. It was dusty, dirty and tiring and at the end of a long day at work or at home sinking into a bubble bath was bliss. Then we had children, along came Davies and Scarlett and the bath at the end of each day would punctuate the changeover from Mummy to Nic. I would do bathtime for the children, filled with bath toys, splashing, singing and bubbles, they would head off to bed and then it would be my turn to soak away that side of my life before emerging into grown up world of the evening and dinner with Ady.
Somewhere along the way I think the bath stopped being about getting clean, or relaxing in bubbles and became symbolic of the reward at the end of a day. It became ritualistic to the extent that I probably didn’t even need to add water, merely sitting down in a specific spot and changing my clothes would likely have had the same mental effect. Like kicking off your high heels or taking off your bra or letting your hair down from a tight ponytail. A sense of relief and a deep sigh.
So here’s the thing. It turns out that in my current life I don’t really need that transition or punctuation mark from one part of the day to the next. Because I don’t actually have parts of my day any more. There is no Monday morning to contrast with Friday night. So while I can certainly still enjoy the indulgence of a hot bubble bath, glass of wine and a good book if there is something better on offer – like a soft bed, or something actually worth watching on TV, or a chat with Ady or the children, or a magnificent view of the Forth Bridge… then actually I would probably rather do that instead.