Don’t worry, I’ll stop showing off soon. I’ve now finished all of the books on the “books I was truly excited about reading” list, so things are bound to slow down now. Or maybe it’s time to make good on my promise to review the Ladybird book I got for Christmas…
Last September, my friends and I spent a night at Portland airport. It was no accident – we weren’t victims of cancellation or horrendous delays, we just had an early morning flight and saw no point in spending a precious $30 each on accommodation and breakfast when we could bunk down on the concourse for free. We had blankets, snacks and each other, what more could we want? And besides, PDX has been voted America’s best airport two years in a row, so why not take advantage of the supposedly-brilliant facilities?
I remember catching up on quite a bit of blogging that night, and dozing in a corner with my friend Eva. But I also, of course, ventured into every shop in the airport in search of entertainment. One of the perks is that one bookstore sells second-hand books, although I didn’t buy any. I did find a book I knew I’d love to read, though, but rather than buy it at the time, it promptly got added to my wish list and showed up on Christmas day.
What I was doing while you were breeding is the sort of book I’d one day love to be able to write. I won’t, because my life isn’t as adventurous as the author’s, but the title alone was something I related to straight away. Although I mostly forget that I’m almost 28 (much of the time, I convince myself I’m still 21 and that there’s plenty of time before I have to grow up), there’s an increasing frequency of reminders that my peer group are overtaking me in the grown up stakes. Thanks, social media, for the slew of engagement announcements around Christmas (no doubt there will be more in the next couple of weeks). Thanks also for the unmitigated (and, frankly, horrifying) week-by-week pregnancy updates. These days, I feel like I’m the only one whose updates still revolve around bars I’ve visited and bottles of wine I’ve consumed, rather than number of night feeds and childhood diseases.
But this book is a reminder that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, that I’m not alone in seeing out my twenties without marrying or buying a house. A lazy reviewer’s description would be that this is Eat, Pray, Love for girls under 30, but that’s too simplistic really. It’s more about working hard, playing harder and learning how to compromise but not settle. I didn’t really want the book to end: I laughed, then I laughed harder, and I wished I had it in me to live the author’s dreamy lifestyle of undertaking a well-paid job for eight months per year, enabling myself to travel for a chunk of the rest. Those kind of roles are a rare thing, and I’ll just have to stick to what mere mortals do – enjoy the job I have, and save up to take some time out and see more things.
Above all, I’ve started a new list, using one of the sentiments from the book which struck the strongest chord with me: the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it. Newman explains it as doing the typical thing relating to the place that you’re in – riding Icelandic ponies across a frozen plain in Iceland, for example. Or going to a luau, perhaps. It’s a “when in Rome” sort of concept, designed to make sure you fully absorb the culture of wherever you are. Many of us don’t do it enough, preferring to stick to our comfort zones, but if that’s the approach we take, we’re neither breeding and settling like our friends, nor living as we’d perhaps like.
Have you done The Thing in The Place? What was it?! And if you’ve settled down already, what’s the greatest adventure you wish you’d taken beforehand?