Is the grass greener?
Updated: Feb 23
When I was three years old my mum had to lock the door to stop me escaping into the front garden and out the gate. When I was four, she had to double lock it and tie the downstairs windows shut.
Apparently, I would unclip the latch and clamber out the small window. Why? Well just 100m away, lay an abandoned chalk quarry turned into adventure playground. There was a ‘giant slide of death’ and copses of trees and bushes, tunnels through spiky thorn hedges, itchy powder berries and masses of grass and tall weeds (everything is tall when you are four). It was a world of adventure and, frustratingly, off limits, hence the apprentice Houdini.
If the quarry was on the ‘no go’ list then the forest and river were definitely verboten. After I had escaped, again, my worried mum found me, with no shirt or trousers or shoes, attempting to dam the river. She was so upset, I had runaway, again, and when she found me, semi naked, she was worried someone had molested me. If playing by the river the river was bright and noisy and fun, then the forest was the polar opposite, dark, quiet and intimidating, it scared me, a lot.
Outside my tied shut with triple knotted plastic washing line was the world and I wanted to experience it. A huge grassy field and in the summer it would be carpeted with daisy’s, dandelions and buttercups. Down one side was a barbed wire fence separating us from even bigger fields with huge thistles and clumps of weeds and dozens of cows leaving huge steaming cowpats. The world was frightening and exciting in equal proportions.
And exciting as it was … one day I had explored the whole quarry, survived the giant ‘slide of death’, again. I discovered the river was just a stream and I could wade in to it and barely get my ankles wet. And the forest was just five minute run through a peaceful wood.
The sadness about growing up is you learn perspective, maturity, is what you choose to do with the knowledge.
All my life I have wanted to climb out the window. It didn’t seem to matter where I stood, I felt there was always somewhere else to be.
Not everyone shares this feeling, this DNA encoded urge to climb over the fence to check out if the grass is greener. I learned over the years that people like me are considered “odd”, according to some of my relatives, I have “itchy feet”, to others I am simply “discontent”. Apparently, I am never satisfied, never content with staying still, and this is, in their eyes, akin to sin.
All of my life I have tried to balance this hankering for adventure with staying still. It was hard, and in the end it tore me and my marriage apart. There is no compromise for those who have this yearning to travel. You can’t just stop after climbing over the first fence because in the distance you can see another one and you know in your heart after that another and another, many fences to climb.
Some people think I am always looking for greener grass. They are wrong. No these people who stay on one side of the fence, watering their own grass and creating their perfect little lawns, these people will never understand. I have tried to explain but to no avail. For people who value lawns the jungle is to be avoided.
I always thought I was alone in this hankering, this urge to untie the knotted string and do something crazy and wild, something sinful, like experience the world for myself. But on my travels I discovered an amazing truth. There is a whole bunch of “odd” people roaming the world.
People like me, who clambered out of the tied down windows of their own lives. People who actually don't care about the colour or texture of a lawn and think people who hide behind the fence are ... "odd".
A glorious bunch of idiosyncratic nomads who just want to see what’s on the other side of the fence.