Glimpses of how it was

Returning from my collecting my morning coffee yesterday I glimpsed a man wearing a quilted padded jacket. I have a similar jacket and you see them all over but the first time they ever registered in my consciousness was probably about 20 years ago when I was travelling in Italy, specifically in Florence. It seemed to me then that every second Italian male wore a stylish, elegant version of this jacket. And that’s the thought that occurred to me yesterday after that brief and incidental glimpse. The long forgotten memory was triggered and suddenly I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut.

Recalling Italy like that reminded me of how great it was to travel and in my mind was a diversity of memories. The pain was instinctive though with the knowledge that I haven’t done that for so long and, for all intents and purposes, it’s something I no longer do. That’s not by choice; circumstances have dictated that and though one day it may change I’m stuck here.

This was an existential pang. There’s so much I enjoyed about travelling, but being a dedicated and adventurous traveller was also a big part of my self-identity. Take that away from me and I feel staid and deprived. I miss the stimuli of different cultures, of being challenged along the way by a raft of things, and learning from the experience. I am left here looking along from afar.

I was surprised at my reaction – I see men in quilted jackets all the time – but I understood once it settled in me. I relate it now from curiosity and to give an insight into moments that otherwise would probably go unremarked. There are many instances like this, across a range of aspects, that grate upon me daily. That’s just how it is and generally it’s subsumed in the routine of the day. It’s a condition of my current existence. This was different, for whatever reason.

I’m trying to change this naturally, to ascend to a place again where I can get on a plane and fly overseas for a holiday, or buy something indulgent on a whim. It’s a great motivating urge. We make progress, though generally only by inches, but at least recently I was finally permitted to have a credit card again – an encouraging sign, and a relief knowing I can now manage unexpected expenses. And yesterday I spoke to two recruiters with an arrangement to meet with one the week after next.

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