by Laura White
It’s 2am and I’m alone in a train station somewhere in northern Italy. I’ve spent two days travelling across Europe with only a palm-sized map of the continent in my pocket, making my way from city to city in roughly the right direction, west. Trains grind to a halt between midnight and 5am, so between those hours I roam the streets of whichever city or town I land in, or I drink coffee alone and self-consciously read Hemingway like I’m starring in a film about my own life. At some point I get on the wrong train and now I am in Austria, instead of France. My handful of euros is dwindling, my phone is broken, and I am sharpening, wits strengthening. Wild girl sleeping in a train station. In the immensity of the night, I am the only person in the streets, at the base of a monument in Milan, or perhaps this is Turin. I am home, I am free. I was born to do this. I make friends with an American brother and sister as we travel along the south coast of France and he bursts out of the train toilet shouting, ‘Don’t go in there! It smells like shit. And vomit. And shame.’ Teeth flashing we shout with laughter, and I will tell that story for the rest of my life. I touch their hands as I get off the train, and never see them again.
So it goes.
I was born to do this. I was born to study departure boards in foreign countries. I was born to meet people once and then tell their stories. I was born to be a stone skimming across the surface of this world.
So what happens, when you become a mother? When, by necessity, your life shrinks to the nucleus of this child, this house, this job?
“My handful of euros is dwindling, my phone is broken, and I am sharpening, wits strengthening.”
Bit by bit, life happened. I could no longer run when I was unhappy. I had to dig my toes into the ground and stretch my face to the sun. I discovered the wonder of relying on others for strength, for love, sometimes. That familiar stomach-yearn happens and all I want is to open my front door, leave my possessions behind, exist on the knife-edge of myself again. But breathe, just breathe. The necessity of my stasis has given me peace. Connections deepen. My roots have given me love, true love, with soulmates that I wouldn’t have found when I was on the run. Life has taken on depth.
One day, I’ll leave again and I won’t come back. But this time I’ll take love with me.
It’s a wild night, a dark night, a warm night, in Cusco, Peru. Life hums on the cobbled streets. A girl is in the backseat of a taxi, three soles to anywhere in the city but she is going to dance until sunrise, in the heat, through the madness, on the tables, in the streets. Beside her is a man she spends six weeks with, her best friend for these weeks and no longer. The city is alive and blood is buzzing through her veins. She opens the window and shouts into the night, as they spin through the too-narrow streets. Her howl bounces once. Twice. Disappears.
Laura White | Instagram: @captainstrumpet
As an account director for a PR company and a single mum, Laura doesn’t have a lot of time for anything, but still manages to be vain on Instagram (@captainstrumpet) from time to time.