Avoid making significant life changes during the grieving process. That’s the advice I kept hearing when my mum died last year. It’s also advice I chose to ignore, which was either very wise or very stupid; I haven’t decided yet. Mum had been ill for four years so her death wasn’t entirely unexpected, but my reaction to it was. I’d been prepared to grieve but I also felt an overwhelming urge to escape. I didn’t care where I went as long as it was far away from the sadness of the last few years.
As well as this, and on a far more trivial, obviously less life-shattering note, the simple fact is I was fed up and had become all too aware of life’s brevity. I’d had enough of my home town and its memories, and my living arrangements were far from ideal. About a year before, the commercial premises below the overpriced, undersized flat I rented with my boyfriend had been converted into a busy coffee shop which was thoroughly cleaned and restocked at midnight for about an hour every night. The combination of grief, extortionate rent, nocturnal hoovering and the incessant humming of the industrial fridge immediately below our bedroom eventually became too much, so we started scouring the internet for escape routes.
The initial plan was to move to some picturesque place in the countryside, wean ourselves off the caffeine fumes and enjoy some fresh air and a slower pace of life for a bit. Sadly the romance of this idea soon wore off once we took the even higher rents, crap winter weather and lack of jobs into consideration, so we decided to investigate warmer, cheaper options. I became overly invested in the lives of the couples on ‘A Place in the Sun’ and fired off application forms for jobs in Ibiza, Corsica, Malta and any other pleasant-sounding Mediterranean islands I could think of during the advert breaks.
I’ve never been one to over plan, or even slightly plan to be honest, so it was only when I was called for interview for a job in Cyprus that I looked up where it actually was on a map. I knew it was somewhere near Greece, roughly, but it turned out to be a lot closer to Syria and Iraq than I’d expected. Apparently geography, like general life planning, is an area I need to work on. However, the TV series had finished, the employer was covering the expenses and the hotel looked nice, so I slapped on the Factor 50 and hopped on Easyjet's finest.
A highlight of the trip was being serenaded by an energetic, ancient man who was either the hotel’s original resident singer or just a very enthusiastic guest, performing a Taylor Swift/Katy Perry mash up on a lute, complete with authentic dance moves, while I enjoyed my complimentary Greek buffet-for-one and sampled the rosé wine selection. This irresistible hint of local nightlife and the prospect of a new life, plus the fact that it was 2000 miles away from the coffee shop, was enough to convince me that I’d found a place we’d be happy to call home. I was delighted when I got a call a few days later to offer me the job.
A couple of months after that, armed with sunglasses, flip flops and only minor fears that we were making a huge mistake, my boyfriend and I made the move. One of the first phrases we were introduced to was ‘siga siga’, which means ‘slowly slowly’ and refers to the Cypriot lifestyle. Our goal of enjoying a less hectic pace of life is definitely working out. We’ve been here a few months now, and apart from a dramatic encounter with a tarantula in the bath and a fairly tense standoff with some of the local feral cats it’s all going pretty smoothly.
The events of last year, and the noise from that industrial fridge, feel very far away which is what I was aiming for. In terms of dealing with my mum’s death I know I’m probably just putting it off, but for now life is good. As far as future plans go, there aren’t any yet. As I said, life planning is an area I need to work on. But siga siga - there’s no rush.