29 Dec Real World Re-Entry
As my golden gap comes to an end and I prepare for my impending ‘real world re-entry,’ I thought I should catch you up on the goings on of the last month and a few re-entry preparations and reflections. My ticket home is booked for next week and I am three parts excited, two parts anxious and one part totally bummed that my golden gap adventure is coming to an end. I am not re-entering reality with the crystal clear ‘post kids’ life plan that I’d hoped for, but I am coming back feeling liberated and alive, with a newfound spirit of purpose, sense of optimism and armed with a ‘plan’ full of gaps, which I will populate as I go. The future, while still uncertain, now feels charged with possibility and my pre-gap trepidation has been replaced by excitement and a genuine belief that I have lots to look forward to.
The final month of my ‘gap’ started an ended very differently. My Camino pilgrimage left me with a ‘zen hangover’ that carried over into August and provided the perfect segway for my final month’s mission … to consciously let go of my penchant for planning and control. I dedicated August (well at least the first half), to embracing a more free-range approach to travel and life as I moseyed my way down the coast of Portugal without my usual military style plan in place. (I know right … who am I and what have I done with Ang!). I stopped at little towns I’d never heard of… stayed up, slept in and chilled out. I admit, it took a few days for my nervous twitch to subside, but once I got into the groove, it felt pretty damn good, and if it weren’t for ‘Big Red, I may have changed my name to the Sanskrit symbol for Namaste and been rocking hairy legs and poo catcher pants for my big golden jubilee celebration in NYC. As luck would have it though, the big girl was a bit of a hand break. A massive red, hard shell suitcase does not scream laid back and was certainly not in keeping with the chilled out hippy vibes I was trying to embrace.
Planning kicked back into gear when I got down to Lisbon and met up with G, for a week of long overdue mother, daughter time. After exploring Lisbon and Sintra, we headed to Santa Cruz, a sleepy little beach town that is also home to Noah’s Surf House, an uber cool new hotel that seamlessly merges hipster vibes with an air of loose luxury. As the name suggests, surf lessons were kind of mandatory and being the token Aussies, we totally thought that this would be our time to shine. G was ok. Me …. not so much. I spent two hours performing spectacular face plants, culminating in my piece de resistance, where I stood for a nano second, got the death wobbles, face planted and scored a massive whack to the head from my board (who was clearly over this charade and wanted to be reassigned to someone with more potential). I dragged my sorry arse back up the beach, applied ice to my ‘fivehead’ and retreated back to the infinity pool where I drowned my humiliation in a bottle of rose’. Surfing has now been permanently deleted from my bucket list.
After Portugal, I took a quick detour via Greece for a 7 day Celestyal cruise of the Greek islands (you can read about it here); and then I hotfooted it to NYC for the grand finale of my Golden Gap and a very ‘un-zen’ conclusion to my travels. I realise that the idea of celebrating my 50thbirthday in New York sounds a tad extravagant and may make me seem like a bit of a knob (with a silent K). But this party was less about marking the occasion of my fiftieth birthday and more about celebrating a transition and the start of a new chapter. It was the bookend on my golden gap and the curtain raiser for what comes next.
And for the record, it was fan-frigging-tastic. My poo catcher pants were replaced by a green sequin jumpsuit, for dinner at Buddakan and then an unadulterated, knees up, hair down, arms in the air party (circa 1995) at a rooftop bar, with views over the Manhattan skyline. It was a night that I will remember for the rest of my days (well, to be fair I can only remember about three-quarters of it), but I would do it again in a heartbeat, because if one thing has become clear to me over the last six months; it’s that life is too short not to grab it by the horns, hold on tight and see where it takes you. It’s too short not to take chances. It’s too short not to step outside your comfort zone and squeeze every last drop of possibility from its juicy core and it’s certainly too short not to wear green sequins at least once! So I have vowed to stop feeling self-conscious and apologetic and to start feeling empowered and proud. To step out of the safeness and familiarity of what was and step into the ‘newness’ and infinite possibilities of all the ‘unknowns’ that lie ahead. Who knows what I will discover, but in the end, I suspect that I will only regret the chances I didn’t take.
After New York, a bunch of girlfriends and I escaped to The Hanptons for what was supposed to be a post NYC, week long recovery party. Famous last words. I think we drank our body weight in gin while we laughed, cried, shared, ate, reminisced and confided in one another like only girlfriends can. And that’s another thing that became crystal clear to me in the final month of my solo gap … how important my friends are … particularly as we transition into this next phase of life. We “get” each other (like only girlfriends can) and we’ve “got” each other’s backs, through all the inevitable ups and downs that have been and are yet to come. It’s like life has gone full circle. My girlfriends were numero uno in my teens and twenties, but then as life and family took centre stage they got bumped to the back seat. But now they’re back up the front and we’re driving this big golden bus together. The girls’ trip was like the cherry on top of the fully iced golden gap cupcake. It nourished my soul and made me realise that I’m not alone and I’m ready to come home. (cue Buble’)
And so here I am … at the end of my golden gap, feeling a mashup of mixed emotions. I feel lighter, like I have shed an old skin and I feel empowered, like I have grown a new set of wings. My midamorphosis is complete! But, if I’m honest, I also feel a little scared. The future feels uncertain but also tinged with intrigue and possibility and I think that I’m as ready as I will ever be to test those new wings and see where they take me.
My Mum (who has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks), always told me to; “hope for the best and plan for the worst,” so with that in mind … I am ‘hoping’ that my ‘real life re-entry’ is seamless … That I will glide in gracefully and land feet first on my target (without spilling a drop of my celebratory champagne). But just in case, I might wear my fire retardant life vest and have a support crew on hand with a life raft and to top up my glass in the event of emotional spillage. See you on the other side.
For more pics go to my insta at www.instagram.com/ang_galloway/