Thursday, April 6, 2023

The World According to The Flu


I haven’t had a glass of wine in a week! Up until this minute I haven’t even thought of wine. Or whisky. Or burgers or sushi or slap chips or shawarmas. My usual indulgences.

I’ve transitioned nicely between a grueling stomach flu – think food poisoning that lasts over a week, to a full on head cold/flu where some unseen bugs have invaded my soul, attacking every limb of my body. Making my neck too tired to hold up my head, and my throat ripped to shreds within. When I swallow, shards of glass scrape their way down. When I cough, there’s a mini explosion inside that leaves me momentarily crippled. So I lie as still as possible. Light hurts. I close my eyes to the walls that threaten to shrink this room into a cell. I squeeze my eyes closed and succumb to the flood of thoughts.

It’s amazing how a period of imposed starvation and suffering can help put your entire life in perspective.

Two weeks ago we were touring wine farms and gluttonously devouring eisbein with crackling (read pig’s knuckle with charred skin), and literally drinking mojitos on tap. Before that we drank goldfish bowls full of brightly coloured gin with syrupy flavours and bubbles and random bits of floating fruit. We bar hopped in the Waterfront, we bar hopped inland. We hiked and rewarded ourselves with wine tasting and a pie. There's a theme here...


Now, chicken noodle soup is my best friend. The packet kind where a toxic looking yellow powder with a few sad dehydrated noodles are dissolved in your sad rental house tea cup. Our counter top resembles a dishevelled pharmacy.

As I sip my tepid water, trying to fend off the dreaded dehydration, I realise I’ve been in holiday mode for the past few weeks. Then who an I kidding - I admit it’s actually been the past few months. Then I admit that it’s been since we retired in 2011!

When we lived on a boat it was a world in itself. People asked “what do you do all day?” but it had it’s flow. On the boat I busied myself with route planning and passing tools for repairs jobs. But I also learned to bake bread and I dabbled with beading, making anklets and boat shoes and bracelets. We hikes uninhabited islands and we sat in warm clear water with a beer in hand, contemplating our beautiful remote existence. The ‘real world’ was very far away in both philosophy and distance.

But now we are in limbo in a sense. We are living on land in between flights. Immersed in the lives of others. Watching the commuters, hearing the busied conversations of hectic lives. We are still far from this world in many ways and yet here we are. We need to carve our own path here.

It might be time to make some decisions and become a tad more responsible. It might be time to add up what’s left and invest sensibly and settle somewhere. To admit that we can’t live this wild and free life forever. To grow up?!

The doomsday newsfeeds creep into my conscience. ‘Economic crash on the horizon’, ‘house prices rising’, ‘fuel costs skyrocketing and affecting air travel’.

Health concerns loom. We’re not getting any younger. Where can we settle with health care?! That’s simultaneously affordable? South Africa? Spain? Canada? Panama? Mexico? Thailand? Who knows...

What is our budget if we’re to make it to old age? Should we own assets? Will we be homeless and starving at some stage due to our reckless ways?

And just when the fog outside threatens to crowd my entire sense of contentment, I remember that I’ve only got this illness for a few days. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll lose a few extra pounds. Not a bad thing. I’ll look at my bad habits and alter a few. Cut down on cheese and alcohol maybe. I’ll try to plan at least a year in advance. I’ll start budgeting. I will write. I will write. I will write. I promise myself today.

But I refuse to stop being free. I will literally die inside if I don’t find new adventures. Even if those are beach walks where the clouds tell new magical stories daily. I cannot choose a stable life. Uncertainty feeds my soul. There might be a little unknown motorhome out there somewhere in Europe with our names on it, or at least waiting for it’s Shiloh sticker?! What I know for certain is that there will be no mortgage, no driveway, no lawn to mow on our horizon. Not while our dreams of adventure are still alive.

I like wine. And whisky. But I must remember I’m not on a two week holiday. This is my life. I will appreciate the freedom and the privilege to peak into other lives, other worlds. But I won’t buy fudge. That’s for holidays. And bad for my waistline. We will hike and find obscure markets and thrift shop and visit old friends and make new ones. We will find cheap flights and visit family and cherish all those moments while we can.

I will try to live in moderation without disappearing into oblivion.

I’m not dead yet, therefore I am not done yet.