It’s this time of the year in England …
It’s this time of the year when you run around shopping although you could have done it 2 months ago, when shops started to advertise Xmas …
It’s this time of the year when you kind of wish it’d snow even if you know you ‘d be in big trouble if it did( England is only trained to do one thing when it snows : stop public transport)
It’s this time of the year when foreigners pretend to LOVE mince pies but secretly still believe there is meat in them and , as they’re forcing themselves to swallow the last bit, they realize they forgot to reply to Xmas cards they received 2 weeks ago from their English friends because it’s just not in their culture to do so.
It’s this time of the year when we eat yummy roast dinners by the fireplace.
And here I am, munching on a continental breakfast by the TV showing a fireplace with burning wood (with the sound and that). And that was just my lunch.
In Kipps , when you’re a a staff member and you eat continental breakfast for lunch it means that :
1/ you’re hung over and just woke up, trying hard to remember what you did after 2am last night.
2/ you’ve just come back from a party, still drunk, and you’ve been banned from cooking by your sober and angry colleague who’s having a busy shift and who finds you ridiculous.
3/ You’re broke.
I don’t drink much these days…
Yes, I’m still broke . 3 months of savings , not spending a penny for clothes , party or anything fancy , here I am. Back to the start .
She must be gambling. Or drinking. Or maybe she sends money home to her poor parents every week.
I’ve got ‘’I’m so sorry for you’’ looks from my friends. Poor Annabelle.
But when I told them The Truth , they were a lot less compassionate.
‘’ Your are WHAT??? Flying to WHERE??? With WHAT amount of money??? You are f**** insane Annabelle’’
Yes. I think money is that thing you use to buy plane tickets online. That’s my thing; I collect flights, ignoring how much money I have left. For now I have 3 tickets. I just need one more and I’ll be ready to go. Yay.
When you get crazy looks even from your hard core backpacker friends you suddenly start thinking. ‘’ I’m f**** mad, mate” and freak out. Then you drink mulled cider and realize : ‘’ it does not count right? It’s XMAS!!!! ‘’ and have another German cookie to make yourself feel better.
And I’ve been broke before anyway. I remember my bank account saying zero in Oz , I remember eating f*** rice in Thailand for breakfast and I’m still alive , right.
‘’ Your problem is that you’re way too generous with people Annabelle. You do stuff for free, you spend your time looking after them .’’ my friends keep telling me. Oh yeah. That one. Shit , where have I been the past 10 years. GENEROSITY. It is sooooo last year.
SO why is each penniless memory I have about my travels always linked to damn awesome generous people then ? There was always someone to help. My friend Pip shared all she had with me , my Aussie parents from Mount Burrell got me a camera and plane tickets , My Russian friend Sue offered me a roof, food and fun in Bangkok , my favourite POM Roy treated me to chocolate cheesecake in an English Tea room in a sweaty Thailand.
How long had I known these people for ? Long enough to have a solid, trustworthy relationship. A couple of Days…
And then of course there was England. A free lift from Heathrow, my favourite job back ( it comes with a flat) , strangers who made me feel that I still belonged here, in Kipps Brighton Backpackers.
So, no mate, generosity is NOT only for Xmas.
’ So what would be your ideal present for Xmas then Annabelle?’’ my friends ask me as I was drinking my 15th coffee of the day ( and that was just my dinner)
You mean, other than magically loose half of my body weight and look 10 years younger?( how shallow is that?) Mmmmm … Let me think.
You think I answered ‘’ a big cheque’’ huh.
Then I looked around me. Kipps Backpackers hostel. My Home, my Family of the World.
Some people are playing the wii swearing in every language at Mario and Luigi for being too f*** slow ( mierda, putain, shit) , others are laughing sharing skittles and remembering drunken times from the night before ( and that’s just the staff)
Totoro just got back from Germany with presents involving a lot of calories and happiness for every one of us .
Terry hid 4 bottle of Champagne in his already very heavy suitcase he was carrying back from France .
Xavier is baking smelly Swiss Raclette cheese on toast for everyone ,while Pumpkin was making complementary Swedish chocolate meatballs for dessert.
Last week my Canadian friend had spent 5 hours baking peanut butter cookies for EVERYONE.
And we just recovered from Mister Dynamite ‘s huge , awesome Xmas/birthday/good bye party . It involved a lot of free yummy food and hugs (And booze, of course) he offered to everyone.
That was just before our weekly food event offered by our beloved owner, Lee. Yes, food for free. Yes, EVERY WEEK.
So, no mate, generosity is NOT only for Xmas
The other one playing the Wii swearing in french with an accent from the South over there currently spends half his days correcting the book I have just finished writing, the French book that I dream to publish one day. He pushed me to finish it and to believe in it.
My other friend’ Mi5’ offered me advice for a possible book in English that I will start soon. And there’s Dwight over there, walking around in his fancy PJs, who has always supported through kipps thick and thin , for 2 years now.
Anna has checked in today, she came in with a beautiful little present for me and a big ‘’so-happy-to see-you –again’’ smile. She first came in September and now decided she’d love to spend Xmas in Kipps. I can’t blame her.
Fairy looks at me and decides she would do my make up and pluck my eye brows ( the ''look 10 year younger'' plan)
Virginie is coming to pick me up for lunch, that she insists on paying.
I look at them all and suddenly feels that HUGE unconditional Love that makes me jump around and sing Xmas carols ( out of tune, of course)
I suddenly realize that every one of them had once taken a huge risk in their lives to be here today. Like me , They left family / friends / a secure job / comfort zone somewhere, to jump into the unknown and believe in something better. And guess what. There WAS something better.
So , no generosity is not just for Xmas. Santa is not that big huge guy in a red and white costume ( I can’t wait to see the Aussie one by the way. Do you think he wears a tee shirt ??? )
it’s YOU, mate. Generosity and Love is in every one of us. It’s just a matter of believing it’s also there in other people. Because it is.
‘’ You’’ I suddenly reply to the ‘’ what do you want for Xmas” question not realizing how cheesy it sounded. But yes, All I REALLY wanted for Xmas was them. And you. And Others I don’t know yet. The rest will come with.
Yes , I’m going ’’ Home’’ to Australia in 2 days to see people I love and meet people I WILL love. Traveling is about that, too. So yeah, I ‘ll take the risk .
Because risks are worth taking.
‘’ You need a plan Annabelle’’says my best friend as he was treating me to a great Thai meal the other night.
I stare blankly. Is writing / traveling / being generous a not good enough plan?
‘’ You’re very disorganised , idealistic, too spontaneous, impatient , you share your whole life on facebook and can’t keep a budget’’
What’s the GOOD news
‘’ And you’re very good at taking the piss out of it. (NB I got that from you , Brits )
So here’s my plan :
One french woman , One world, 3 months. 800 pounds. Will I make it?
Like my facebook page ‘’ citizen of world’’ . And Come traveling with me
Because it’s free, mate ( unless you want to sponsor me)