This is me, on my 30th Birthday, it’s the 7th of February, the wind outside is bitter. The pandemic hasn’t happened yet, there’s news of a few people who are ill in China, awful news but the seriousness of it all doesn’t seem real yet. My friend who’s with us in the car reads out an article about it out loud and looks at me worriedly. I tell her not to worry, it will all be alright. We’re driving in the car, in the dark, along poorly lit windy country roads and they are icy. My partner is slightly annoyed that I choose to book somewhere on Air b n b In the middle of nowhere. There’s no street signs or road names and google maps can’t make its mind up about where we are. Zowie, my baby girl is teething and has eventually stopped crying after an hour of the journey. I’m exhausted and I’m starting to feel guilty about booking somewhere for my birthday.

After a few phone calls to the owner and doubling back on ourselves a few times we finally get there, except we can’t find the key. It’s on the ground under a sign and it’s so dark we can’t find it. It takes some time but eventually we get inside. It’s warm and cozy. There’s a little library. I’m reminded of the game Cluedo. I’m not sure who’s going to be murderer and with what but to say the journey was stressful is an understatement.

My partner by now has got used to my impulsiveness but somewhere around mid 29s I started having some sort of midi life crisis. It started slow and gradually got more intense. This was the peak. I look happy on the photo but inside I am like a storm. My feelings are exploding and I’m trying to keep it together. I don’t know how to deal with it. My friend lights the fire in the front room and we make drinks. I brought Expensive Gin with me, stuff I couldn’t afford in my 20s. Actually, I still can’t, but I bought it anyway.

The following morning I get up early. I’m the only one awake. My hangover hasn’t kicked in yet, I still think I’m okay. The storm that was raging the night before has calmed down and the sun is hitting the hills in the distance and I can see a whole pallet of colours. I grab my camera and jump outside with no shoes. The ground is icy. The sensation jumps up my spine. I stand there and look at the countryside. ‘What am I doing here?’ I think to myself. My best friends are here, everyone else isn’t. Why did I do that? Have I run away? Why is it such a big deal turning 30? What is wrong with me? I’m having an existential crisis.

The following night, I get dressed up. My friend’s a bit of tomboy, she doesn’t understand why I’ve brought make up with me let alone why I’ve put it on. I feel a bit stupid, still, I take a selfie. I post it on Facebook and tell everyone I’m having an amazing time. I’m feeling insecure.

I keep thinking about my twenties and all the crazy times I’ve had. I think about the parties and all the times I got blackout drunk, the dancing in night clubs, the drugs and the raves I used to go to. They feel like a different lifetime ago. They feel so removed from where I am now. Suddenly I have a sinking feeling and I start to feel like I am absolutely boring. I start thinking how much of a terrible idea it was to book this place. My friend 36, and my partner 34, assure me it’s nothing to worry about and at least I’m not their age. It doesn’t make me feel better. My daughter wakes up and it takes until midnight to get her back to sleep. I’m mentally drained and fed up. I get back down stairs and my friends fallen asleep. I sit and pour myself a drink. Alone. I have another drink, this time a shot. The darkness creeps in.

In the morning I run myself a bath. It’s a giant copper free standing bath, beautiful. It’s extravagant and luxurious. The water runs brown. The storm must have caused sediment to get in the pipes. I burst out crying. I can’t help but feel this whole holiday is a metaphor for how I’m feeling inside. I go down stairs and stare at the ominous view from the window. At least it’s stopped raining. I open the door to have a cigarette. The wind is roaring. It rips the cigarette right out of my hand. Great I think to myself, I can’t even smoke.

We find a little pub in a nearby village called Alston. My son complains that he’s bored. There’s a dusty monopoly board on a shelf so I pick it up. Brushing off the dust, I open the box. There’s only five pieces. I’m left with the iron. We start to play. I still feel boring, but I like seeing my son smile. Later I take this photograph of my partner and my baby girl. I’m feeling a bit more positive. I know I am lucky and I should be happy with what I have. I am, but these feelings inside of me are overwhelming and strange. I don’t recognise myself anymore. I don’t feel like myself.

Eventually it’s time to pack up and go, back to my life. Back to work. Back to reality. I get my shit together, then the pandemic hits Italy, it’s bad. It’s unbelievable in fact. I’m working in a care home at the time. There’s panic from the staff. Then it’s in England, they’re talking about shutting schools down I can’t believe it. We get coronavirus in the home and residents start passing away. I’m in total shock, people are dying, everyday, all over the world and there’s nothing I can do to help. My problems suddenly feel so small.

Six months later I decide to totally change my career. I get a job working in sales, then I walk out after four weeks and feel totally free for the first time in my life. I feel determined and less self absorbed. I decide to start my own business. I start blogging. I find my voice. I’ve found myself.


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