gap year: week two

Monday 15th – Sunday 21st September, 2014

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro
Perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco
Y en el ancho cielo su fondo estrellado
Y en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo.

(Thanks be to life, which has given me so much
It has given me two eyes, and when I open them
I clearly distinguish black from white
And in the high sky, its starry depths,
And from the crowds, the man that I love.)

Gracias a la Vida (Thanks Be To Life) – Joan Baez’s final encore on Wednesday 17th September, Royal Festival Hall

photo
during my run, Thursday 18th September

Despite the security I established last week, there are still lots of changes going on around me. This week, my Facebook feed has been full of photographs of cramped study bedrooms as my friends move away from home and into their university accommodation, and for each new photograph I become more fond and more grateful for my own bed.

But then again, I myself am not static. For the second time in the past five days I took the train down to London on Wednesday afternoon to meet Rosa and Bijan. For the first time I navigated through the underground system alone, at rush hour of all times, and then over the Thames to the Southbank Centre. By pure coincidence we ate at the same Wagamama’s as on the first evening of the News Academy Summer School, and my mind flickered back to that wonderful week, already rose-tinged in my memory, but I was grateful to be back on the train home by 10.30pm. How will I cope next year?

Rosa and I spent the evening watching the stunning Joan Baez perform at the beautiful Royal Festival Hall. Though we both have our own modern music preferences, we grew up with the voices of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne, alongside Baez, and by the end of this year Dylan will be the only one we’ve not seen perform together. She sang of rebellion and travel and goodbyes, and although most of the songs echoed only faintly in far-away creases of my memory her voice felt reminiscent of today. This was most prominent during her rendition of Imagine (music from 1.36), particularly at the line Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do, considering the Scottish Independence Referendum was due to take place the following day.

On that Thursday, I got up at 6am to find out the result, and was relieved at the outcome as the final figures scrolled along the bottom of the screen underneath the footage of Alex Salmond’s speech. But at the same time, a tiny part of me was just a bit curious as to what would have happened if it had been a Yes vote. There were – and still are – a multitude of questions about Scotland’s future, and I think the lack of secure answers to those most critical (regarding, for instance, currency) was a huge factor in tipping the outcome to No. Ultimately, when it came to it, Scotland’s now became more important than the what if… questions of the Yes camp.

I’d stayed unusually quiet on the topic of the ‘#IndyRef’;I felt in many ways that it wasn’t up to me, and that, really, I didn’t have enough to say on the subject. So it was only on that morning that I realised there was a lot it had to teach me. As far apart as I may be from my friends, if it’s right we’ll be okay. Next year I might drift away from home for a bit, but I can always come back in the end. But, most importantly, it’s time to stop thinking about the future; time to stop imagining ‘this time next year’ and focus on making now the best it can be.

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  1. 29/09/2014 / 7:57 pm

    I was hoping for a Yes vote. had I been Scottish, I would have chanced independence. Joan Baez did a version of one of my most favourite songs; ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’, but it was better by The Band. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnyeqyCiLdo
    I found it a little amusing that you navigated the London Tube alone. As someone who spent 60 years in London, it is second nature.But well done, anyway: I know it can be daunting.
    Best wishes as always, Pete.

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