Friday, 22 March 2013

Over the border

My studies rarely take me travelling. I do travel a lot though - but rarely further North, so that is why this morning's trip was a nice change.

When I was a child I rarely left my home of Manchester apart from a small summer trip away or a family visit  to Scotland or Kent, until we left the Grey City and moved over the border to Yorkshire. Then when I was a dancer of course I travelled here and there to different parts of the country as I grew up and it was wonderful. I had a gentle introduction to coach and train rides and service station food and spending nights in hotel rooms with friends.

Then I became a model and learnt what travelling really means. It means long hours and lots of waiting and late night calls requesting you to be somewhere the next morning. It means queues and tiredness and hunger and late nights, early mornings, sleepless nights. It means after these long days and sleepless nights we are required to look 'perfect' and be 'perfect' in our waking hours because anything less isn't an option. It's not what we're paid to do. It means language barriers and cultural mis-communications. It means being somehow lost in translation if not lost completely. It means you are most likely very, very lonely. Suit-case living is an art in itself. It requires you to not 'need' or 'want' much, but to be OK with constant change and no consistency or support. No stability, no reassurance, no one by your side. No control, no autonomy, not much really. Of course, I'm painting a very negative picture of life modelling and travelling. I suppose this is the side that not many models will share. When asked what we love about our job, we reply 'the travel is wonderful' - and it is. Goodness, it can be wonderful. But as with everything, we take the good with the bad and try to locate ourselves in a place where the two can be comfortably managed. And that, is also an art-form. It can be done with great skill, and it's done by so many. It's parallel to the process of developing thick skin. Thick skin and an immune-ness to this kind of loneliness.

At some point the thick skin must be broken back down. It's not much of a life if it's spent living immune to all feeling because our thick skin is so thick we no longer care.

I'm now welcoming some new travelling experiences, and when on the train this morning I was reflecting on what I actually value about being a model as well as all the other roles that I have. Because I know for sure that there must be something, otherwise why would I still do it? As much as travelling can be draining and isolating, it also opens up a world of new people and new faces and new relationships. It keeps life moving and keeps me inspired. This is the good side. And actually, this is what I did this morning. I'm enjoying my dissertation research so much right now because of the people I'm meeting and the stories I'm learning about and the interesting lives people lead. People have stories to share, and it's so intriguing to be able to share in them.

A day of affirming reflection. It's the sharing of stories that takes away the loneliness. And it's the travel that provides movement and energy for living.

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