Sometimes you have the opportunity to meet people who can completely blow you away; floor you in a remarkable sense. Sometimes these people are good for you and sometimes they are not. Either way, these people, these Hurricanes, are an important part of life on the road.
So I’d like to take the time to introduce you to Jess. Jess was my hurricane.
She left as fast as she came, a whirlwind of big personality, mugs of wine and cigarette smoke.
High bun and thick lashes, she laughed and talked around pink lip-gloss and sat in bike pants and t-shirts with all the confidence in the world.
This hurricane – Jess – was the sort of person that I’d normally never get to meet. She was one of the ‘pretty girls’, the ones that can wear bubble-gum flavoured body lotion and get away with it. The type who was always on the phone; the type that had a partner somewhere waiting for them and hanging on every word they said. The only way I could describe her shade of lip-stick was ‘Barbie’.
Jess wasn’t my sort of person, but circumstances put us together. Work made us flatmates in the run down old Town Flats where the management staff get to live. I saw this flat as a saving grace, a chance to be away from the hotel and staff and almost live a normal life. Jess saw it as the best staff accommodation she’d ever been in, and she’s been on the road a long time.
We both saw it as The Ghetto, the sounds of the night and locals mixing with the run down appearance and peeling paint. The makeshift clothes lines hanging off inlaid balconies. It was like our own version Kowloon city, inhabited little boxes stacked on top of each other, built on ground that seemed to be slowly sinking back into the sea.
Out on that balcony, we laughed and joked, complained and gossiped. We talked about all the things wrong with this place, with the pay and the hours and the difficulties. We made escape plans.
A week later she is gone. Yesterday, for Hurricane Jess, those plans were put into action. A horrible day mixed with the knowledge of the meagre pay and Jess threw caution to the wind and walked out. Quit on the spot. She came home to wine in the afternoon and puffs of self-rolled cigarettes. Her bags were packed last night, her mind made up and her ticket out of here still burning a hole in her bank account.
There’s food in the kitchen that she left behind, snacks and meals and I’m drinking one of her Red Bulls as I write this. There is shampoo and face scrub in the bathroom. Her blanket now adorns the end of my bed, her store purchased pillow has taken the spot of the work supplied rubbish that is now discarded, tossed to the floor as a causality of the morning.
Of the hurricane.
So why am I writing this? Why am I recording this random encounter for all to see?
The wind outside is blowing strong, coastal and dangerous and threatening disaster. I have Portishead’s SOS cover playing as I sit inside and watch what feels like the remnants of Jess blowing through our little Ghetto. I sit here and I think and I watch the trees bend and shift. Because that was how Jess lived; she bent and shifted with pressure, taking shit from no one. Even when pressure pushed her down, she twisted and sprung back up.
And now here I am, writing this with a Recruitment website open and my phone beside me. You see, Jess last night, she made an impact. She reminded me why I’m doing this, reminded me what it means to be transient and with nothing more than a suitcase of belongings. I can go anywhere, do anything. I don’t have to stay tied to a place that is making me miserable and I don’t have to stay working in a place where I’m not meeting my savings targets.
So last night I made a call, and that call was returned. I sent an email, and that email was returned with a time. Last night I interviewed for a job and today I’m waiting for the phone to ring for another. With any luck I’ll get one of them today, maybe both. If I don’t then it’s back to the recruitment site, because, as Jess proved, people like us are made to move with the wind, leaving materialistic things behind and taking memories with us.
And that wind is blowing strong out there today and I can feel myself going with it.
If she can be a hurricane then so can I.
Anyone can, even if sometimes we need a little encouragement.