The term at university may be imminently resuming, but today proved that one influx of the past can pave the way for what lies much further ahead.
I had not anticipated that today, a day which was originally a now traditional last Deaf Cat visit before returning to London, would be sparked into life by some very special people from Switzerland, and even further around the globe in Japan.
It was the brief but brilliant return of certain figures which made last year’s summer so memorable, leaving me now with one huge and quite frankly necessary surge of motivation going into next week, and beyond. I may be on the brink of returning to the hard, grey streets, but beyond the towering skyscrapers lies the thought of those timeless days with endless sunlight, when the temperature stays warm, and you’re surrounded by the right people.
Today I found myself not looking back, but ahead.
And it was this revelation which will support me through what is going to be a brutal five weeks. Last night I found it difficult to sleep, the thought of ‘how am I going to make these five weeks work?’ lapped around my head. I was gradually rekindling the intensity that claws so tightly during the working weeks, but today was a reminder that the days can only get longer, the temperature can only get warmer, and that the period in spring where you know exactly what you’re working towards will soon be back.
These five weeks will try to kill me, but beyond that it can no longer become any tougher. The latter days of winter spur some true optimism of what lies ahead.
While being mindful of how painful the upcoming workload shall be, I’ve forgotten to mention my own downfall in slowly injuring myself to another standstill.
After returning from suffocating myself in a masked threshold run on Tuesday, the now familiar sensation of tearing ligaments began to scream from around my knee cap. Keen not to sit around Googling a cure again, I loaded the crippled cap onto a foot rest, dressed it up in a knee support and have sat watching Pinch Runner on repeat for about four evenings now. Perhaps tomorrow I shall be back out for this week’s eighty minute long run. It’s been rested a fair bit, and pelted with five rounds of ibuprofen so I should hopefully be ready to resume training towards the big goal.
I say ‘rested’, but I did accidentally become involved in an international friendly between England and Switzerland on the prestigious turf of Rochester castle grounds. This spontaneously came into place when a phone call from Thomas, affectionately under the alias of Jeremy, summoned myself, Mark, Ethan, Gianni and Joe De Souza when sat in the Deaf Cat finishing off our caffeine fix.
We ventured out onto the castle grounds grass, where three familiar faces waited, alongside Matt and a few students from the current Swiss exchange. With my knee strapped up, it was a rather awkward waltz to meet Juliet, Solveig and Jeremy for the first time since June last year. Regardless of how crippled I was though, it was a true delight to see them once again. Bright and energetic as ever, it was another brilliant time in their company.
The idea for a football match immediately followed into goal posts being lined up and teams being sorted. I knew that if I could walk that would be good enough to play, I just had to lug one iron leg around the entire time. Mark, Matt and Gianni looked the part in their football tops, and even as a casual kickabout, we later agreed in the car that for some reason we probably scored some of the greatest goals of our lives. Although bearing the number 14 of the great Thierry Henry on his shirt, Gianni scored a Bergkamp-esque goal, while my flick to Mark resulted in him genuinely burying a bicycle kick between the jumpers. Perhaps this was the rehearsal for my film idea for later in the year…
Like any good kickabout, we had a good laugh, and played until it was dark. The Swiss kindly avoided hacking my disabled leg to pieces, and I believe I actually came out less injured that I started. Everyone wins.
The initially mild and sunny skies may have chilled off and gone dark, but we all sat by the castle, and talked for a while. Time felt irrelevant. Rather, it was a chilled evening with no premonition of having to work or bear any stress- it’s been a while since I’ve had such thoughts.
When you live in different countries, the words ‘see you later’ are valuable. I watched Jeremy utter the exact phrase as he went off into the night. I don’t know when I’ll get to see him again, but I have a feeling it won’t be too long.
After blasting the national anthem of Love Machine, and the Joe De Souza theme tune of Love Revolution 21, the Warren Whip dropped everyone off to their homes one by one. I then made the return trip down the motorway and parked it up for the next five weeks. It’s had an excellent run this time, almost completely faultless. When the summer comes around I cannot wait to make it shine once again.
Once home, I looked at the bag of gifts sent from three of last year’s Kobe students, Erika, Maho, and Yoko. The three had taken the time and care to send Joe and me some really nice gifts for Valentines Day, where over there the girls give boys treats. White Day follows on the 14th March, and that is our chance to repay the favour.
Within the package were three very nicely written notes, with warm words which roused the same smile that seeing the Swiss again managed earlier. The Japanese students last year were a really special group of great people, just like the Swiss, and today it was evident that those friendships are not bound by time. Instead, the challenges faced at university right now are minuscule compared to after exams when we can properly live our lives again.
Slowly but surely, the exciting period where everything nears its climax is coming. Winter is quickly ending, and the spring which transitions winter into summer, and work into freedom, is near us.
This week off has been perfect. These next five weeks will not be easy, but knowing just how much of a relatively brief sprint they will be is enough to push me to do my best, knowing that the most draining time of year will soon be behind us, and that the days can only get brighter, and the summer can only get closer.
Five weeks. Spring is waiting on the other end.