When I was in Santorini earlier this year, it was a place unlike any other.
Well, actually, it kinda was, but not in a way that I – and probably most of you whom had never been – had actually ever imagined. You see, on Instagram and on glossy postcards in souvenir shops, the Santorini that had ingrained in my mind was of the whitewashed, pastel-domed, blue Aegean Sea variety.
The first stray dog I saw, I thought nothing of it. Then I started seeing more, and more, with each one looking even more neglected and malnourished than the last. Then I read about the poor donkeys; the ones that are forced to trudge up and down that ridiculously steep hill to ferry tourists to and from Fira under duress with the stealth crack of a whip. It was like an arrow through my heart; but more than anything, it shattered this honeymoon image I had of this place. Sure, 10% of what laid before me was awe-inducing, jaw-droppingly magical. But the other 90%? Disappointingly – but understandably so – it’s stuff that you would never see on your Instagram feed.
I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years – that’s a third of my life (yikes!) – and in that time, so much has changed in so many ways. When I started my first blog in 2006, I had in total three readers – three friends who were bloggers themselves. It was like some secret club. It was at least half a decade before blogging became a ‘thing’; before blogs could become a brand; before bloggers became The Next Big Thing; and way before anyone could actually fathom that we could all be paid in some way or another to simply wear clothes.
Back then, we didn’t give a shit if our food looked as unphotogenic as heck. There were no Diptyque candles as props, no peonies in brown paper to serve as Instagram-bait. It was all about forging friendships, meaningful conversation, meeting new people and learning more about each other. Fuck, it was like ten years before we even knew what a selfie was.
Back then, I didn’t care who was reading or how many of you were reading. I was blogging my vegemite on toast, my sneaky lunchtime purchases from Sportsgirl, my wedding speech for God’s sake. Because old school blogging was never about creating a Brand. It was never about wearing gifted clothes, sitting front row at fashion week, working for free in exchange for ‘exposure’, or getting invited to events where once you got there, you sorely wish you were sitting on the couch in your PJs eating potato chips. It was never about making a corner of your home all perfectly pretty when in actual Real Life it looked nothing like the 640×640 frame you’ve just spent an hour meticulously editing. And it was never ever about pimping your pet Frenchie or your two-year-old on Instagram just to acquire those three lauded F’s: Free stuff, Followers and Fame.
What happened to just creating beautiful things for the sake of just wanting to create beautiful things?
Yesterday, Jamie and I did something we hadn’t done in years; creating something personal together that wasn’t for ‘work’. I guess anyone who is a photographer (or any creative) would be nodding knowingly at the thought of this – doing something – anything – incredible and inspiring without having to fill a brief. And only doing it for yourself. So yesterday we threw the camera in the car and drove down to our favourite spot to take a few photos of the sunset, the windswept afternoon and my growing bump with my toes in the sand. Stuff that we used to do (minus the bump, of course) that would set our hearts on fire in our own little ways. This makes me happiest and seeing these photos we created together will mean more to me than any ‘work’ we’ve done together.
The thing is, my life also did a 360 this spring. I’ve lost two close family members in the space of less than 10 weeks. I will never understand how some things can suddenly be taken away from you when you least expect it. Life is so quick, and so intense, and sometimes, too short and unfair for me to be able to ever comprehend. My bones can’t stop shaking like trees and every day has been a hurricane since then. It’s been so hard to carry on as normal, to go about my days without feeling guilty about enjoying them; to let that familiar feeling of loss in again so soon. Too soon. Above, all it has become so unfathomably sad that I will never be able to take that time back to have one last conversation with them.
Which brings me to the point of this post. That all good things, I guess, must come to an eventual end.
After almost a decade of sharing my life online, this will be the last blog post I’ll be making on here to make room for new adventures – things that get my heart racing with the people in my life who remind me to be grateful for just being alive. Or just to realise what a big deal being able to live my life offline a bit more really is. It’s hard to walk away from something that has opened the door to so many amazing opportunities, new friends, and ultimately, a place where I share a part of my life but I can’t imagine anything worse than having a phone constantly glued in one hand while I hold my baby in the other. I’ll still be doing the occasional instagram, the odd tumblr and snapchat from time to time. Oh – and I almost forgot to mention, I’ll still be contributing to Vogue Spy Style for the time being. I have quite a few travel and maternity style posts lined up for the next few months, so keep a look out.
As for the Real Talk? Well… You can either go out and chase your dreams or stand by and watch other people chase theirs.
Photography by Jamie Lau.