Just to clarify: I am not a hippy.
Ok, so my home is a converted horse box, that’s not exactly ‘normal’ but there’s good reason for that (read this if you don’t know the story). It’s just the way that life has worked out.
I shower daily, I brush my hair, I have a job, I drive a car, I eat meat, I know nothing about tarot cards. Think of a stereotype and I probably don’t do it. That’s how boring I am.
Ok, so I regularly run around in the woods for a living, I nearly always have a twig or leaf or small spider in my hair (hazard of the job), I know when the next full moon is and I can identify a whole host of birds by their song. That’s just enjoying being outdoors and noticing the natural world.
I grew up in suburbia, my childhood was as straightforward and secure as anyone could hope it to be. We had holidays, we had music lessons, we were clean and fed and well-dressed, all the stuff that people generally want for their children. My parents were strict with us and we knew where our boundaries were, we rarely crossed them and got a right telling off when we did.
The thing is, my parents always encouraged me and my sister to have open minds. They taught us to be independent thinkers (even when that meant big old arguments between us over the years) and to have an amazing amount of resilience. They have always respected my judgement and my decisions (even if they do let me know in no uncertain terms that they don’t agree). They have always been supportive.
I have come to realise over the years that I am a very lucky girl.
Obviously, when I was younger, I thought my parents were right pains-in-the-arse. Of course I did, they told me I had to tidy my room, they made me eat my greens, I got in trouble when I did something wrong. They were parents.
In retrospect, I got off lightly. And they did a very good job of letting me go once I was old enough, and potentially wise enough, to make my own way in life. Here are a few examples (slightly shortened):
Me: I’m not going straight to uni. I want to travel the world and have lots of fun. I’m going to do most of it on my own. Can you lend me some money for a visa?
Them: Er, make sure you go to uni afterwards. Get a job and get the visa yourself.
Me: I don’t want to do my year abroad in St Petersburg with all the other British university students, I’m going to go and live in a small village in Siberia with no running water or phone for 8 months. I’ll be the only English speaker there.
Them: (rolling their eyes) Well, it’ll be good for your Russian. Make sure you email us when you go to the city.
Me: You know that doctor boyfriend of mine that you really liked? I’m single. We’ve given notice on our idyllic cottage in the country. I don’t want to live in the city again. I’m going to live in a 12-foot long caravan at my friends’ place for the foreseeable future.
Them: That makes sense, you’ll be around people you know at a time when you need them. So long as you’re happy.
Me: I’m really pissed off with my full-time managerial job with a respectable conservation charity. I don’t feel valued and I’m being held back.
Them: Why are you still there? Go and work for yourself.
So, to clarify once more, I am not a hippy. I just live somewhere a little bit different.