As the end of the year is coming I have been looking back through my pictures and writings both in my notebooks and on social media. What I’ve noticed is that when I’m in Wales I feel and write expansively. There is something about the rugged, green landscape and ancient coast where I grew up which makes me feel bigger, more connected and freer. I didn’t always feel or notice that. I believe that it took living away, as well as a large amount of personal change and growth, to really understand just what that place means to me. Whilst I was there this summer I felt magical, lifted by the landscape, called by the woods and weaving paths that cover the natural park where I roamed as a child. When I was younger I was often lonely in that place, isolated and left to my own devices, but now I feel able to value that in a different way, to know that I was inhaling that landscape all along, living it so that it and I run through each other like the estuary tides. I expanded back into this environment, revelling in the knowing of it, the feeling of it and connecting to a land that speaks directly to me, gives medicine, inspiration, company and healing.
What I’ve come to realise recently is that whether I am here or there I will always miss some part of the other place. Yes, it’s human nature. I’m also a Pisces and have been pulling in two opposite directions all my life with neither winning for long. I like change for that reason. I’m often restless for an ‘otherness’ and my life is as full as a fruit bowl with stories of that. Here in Andalucía, I’ve learnt a level of contentment that I’ve never experienced before. Peacefulness. The feeling of ‘enough.’ Yet at the same time I find myself restless for fresh winds and freedom and a wildness that no matter how hard I try I just cannot find in myself or in the landscape when I am here.
For that reason, coming back to Córdoba was hard at the end of the summer. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be here again or sure of what reasons I still had for making that choice. After all, I left Wales five years ago needing a deep change, running away a little and looking for life and adventure, which I’ve experienced in abundance during my time here. Being away made it possible to go back and be happy. To shed, process, heal and evolve. It was a wonderful, exultant feeling to finally leave some traumas behind and drink in all the wonder of my birthplace. So, to leave that euphoria felt as if I was relinquishing all of that joy in order to go back to a smaller place. A space which has been like a safe incubator, a secondary womb and birthing experience for me. It took some months so stop resisting the ‘want’ to be there, even though life here is good.
What I love about my life here in Andalucía is the simplicity of it. It is slow-life in it’s purest form, without any clichés or curated authenticity. Here, I am part of a world where we grow our food in a community group, cook it from scratch without wasting any imperfect vegetables, buy from the market in bulk where people know me and we talk about what’s in season, pick up furniture from the street and recycle it, make art with friends because we can and we want to and we have time, walk by the river and know the birds and trees that I see there everyday. I walk or cycle everywhere in a city that sits in a basin surrounded by rolling hills on all sides. I work enough to get by financially without bells and whistles, for that reason I’ve learnt how not to need and that has been a huge liberation. I clean my house, care for our animals, walk the city for miles every week, read, write and dream because here I have time to do it and I value it so much. Things that we have lost I find here. Nostalgia yes but also a way of life that has yet to be unlearnt, old skills and knowledge that is still alive if you know where to look.
So there it is. The symbol of the two fish pulling away yet intrinsically joined. The Welsh side of wilderness, solitude and freedom; of old life and wounds that needed time to heal, of good friendships and the nature inside and outside of me. The greatness of landscape and these deep roots that stretch across the sea to find the Andalucían side of home; of domesticity in the form of simple pleasures, sensuality and sun on skin; of valuing, repairing, using and re-using; of peace and of the pleasure in taking time over things and being connected to people in real time. Two fish, both important, both beautiful shimmering gifts in my life and ultimately the ‘pulling away’ is always heading towards each other in the end.