Our newest writer, Hannah Wallace Bowman, left her home in London a little over a year ago. In that time she’s gotten wildly drunk with friends, traveled around Central America, fallen in (and out) of love, worked at Camino Seguro / Safe Passage in Guatemala City and spent months participating in the recovery efforts after the devastation of Tropical Storm Agatha in the Spring of 2010. Presented here is a selection of her diary entries over the past 12 months. She is recently returned from London. We missed her.
● 15th January, 2010
Bedroom, South London, second-floor apartment:
However exactly you would define a quarter-life crisis: I’m having one.
The bags are now (almost) packed and I’m bracing myself for rites of passage all over the shop as, after much deliberation and procrastination, I’m breaking free of the murky world of Public Relations, and preparing to breathe in the heady and reviving air of change and self-righteousness. I believe the correct term is, “going to find oneself.”
Quite exactly what this year-long trip to Guatemala will entail, I’m yet to find out. All I know is that such an expedition has to be more fun than the Clapham Common tube station on a Tuesday morning . . . and marginally more life-affirming than eating a Tesco own-brand sandwich at my keyboard, flicking through a tea-stained (urine-stained?) copy of the Metro.
● 17th February, 2010
Office of John Doe Communications, The Biscuit Building (Shoreditch, London.)
The evening sky is darkening from orange to purple over the great cityscape of Londontown. Why am I leaving? This is the land of manners and croquet, of chimney sweeps and Shakespeare. The BBC. The Cotswolds. Judi Dench and The Archers. Oh god, I’m not so sure about this anymore.
Everything seems brighter, more beautiful than mundane. I find myself asking what on earth has driven my desire for some elsewhere. I haven’t left yet and I’m already nostalgic for country walks and evenings in the pub, whilst the jostling of my fellow commuters on The Tube now seems almost playful and endearing, the snapping of the bus driver quaint and somewhat charming in its English-ness. I am surrounded by the most interesting and loveable people in the world.
I think there might be a slight possibility that I might be romanticizing a bit at the prospect of an imminent departure.
● 2nd March, 2010
Flight Continental 05 to Houston after Ingesting 7 mgs of diazepam and rising.
Goodbyes are never fun and I never pull them off with any level of finesse. Current status: vaguely hysterical, snot-ridden and with enough make-up smeared across my face to make even the most weathered of Avon ladies blush. Rivulets of congealing mascara are quietly dripping onto the sleeve of the ill-fated Mexican gentleman sitting next to me every time I doze off. Thoughts: I am in a sorry state. I like diazepam.
The channel showing Twilight is, of course, the only one not working. I am forced to alternate between watching re-runs of House with peering intently at the route-tracking system, monitoring the ground speed, altitude, outside air temperature and estimated arrival time for any anomalies to which I must immediately alert the crew.
We are crossing Goose Bay in Quebec. Below snow and ice are indistinguishable from the freezing sea. It would be just typical to crash right now. We’d probably have to eat each other. Oh, God . . . I’m getting Deep Vein Thrombosis. Why didn’t I buy the special socks? I’ll do some “gentle exercises” as advised in the travel magazine. That’s bound to endear me further to the fellow next door. Lucky bugger.
PS. I’m fairly sure the purser is actually Sue Sylvester from Glee.
● 17th April, 2010
Sun-drenched deck chair (Rainbow Café, Antigua)
No time to write, but have to make some notes:
1. Electric shocks. Unavoidable. Especially in the shower. Can’t remember the last time I had a shower without getting an electric shock. Effing annoying/ potentially life threatening.
2. Ladies’ night in Antigua. To be avoided. At all costs.
3. Americans abroad to install stoves. Also to be avoided at all costs. Warning: they frequent ladies’ night.
4. Jocotes. A small fruit. Would recommend.
5. Lago de Atitlán. A crater lake surrounded by volcanoes. An absolute must-see before you pop your clogs — you cannot beat a Sunday morning swim off a rickety wooden jetty into crystal clear water. Ignore rumors of toxic algae.
6. Helmets. Wear one when you ride a dirt-bike into the mountains. Or if you don’t, do NOT tell your Mother.
7. Earthquakes. A new experience. Not convinced it’s one I would like to repeat on a grander scale.
8. Salsa lessons. First one today. I wish I could say I styled it out. I fear the truth may be somewhat different.
9. Chicken buses. Fast and swervy. NOTE: actual chickens do frequent.
10. Baby sick. Not cool. ’Nuff said.
Love it here.