I am currently sitting in a small coffee shop, facing my gate which probably won’t open for another hour. Being the clever, urbanite that I am, I took the tube an hour early to avoid the manic panic of morning London rush hour. Four for you, self. You go, self.
But now that means I am very early for my flight home. So I have decided to reflect on my journey. Y’all can stop reading now if you’re not in the mood for a long form blog entry today. But I’ll try to keep it short.
When my best friend and I decided to quit our jobs and go to Europe, I can honestly say it was the most “reckless” thing I have ever done. Well, there may have been one or two things in university but those don’t count. I have always been a “by the rule books” kind of human and it worked out for me pretty damn well. I had spent so much time working toward something - a career - and was so lucky to be as successful as I have been. When I left my job, it wasn’t because I didn’t like it. I loved it (mostly). But, there was this funny little Jiminy Cricket-esque thing chirping in my ear that was looking for…adventure. So, fuck it, we said. Let’s go to Europe.
In 2 months, I’ve been to 9 countries, 15 cities, tried to decode 8 different languages, nearly lost my cell phone, my London Oyster metro pass, and on occasion my sanity. I learned that train travel is not for me, I much prefer to fly. I learned that I cannot sleep just anywhere, I am a hypochondriac, and my spatial sense is so atrocious that I should walk around with a warning sign.
I also learned some positive things. I learned that I have the single greatest friend in the whole world, without whom I would have broken down and gone home about 2 weeks into our trip. I learned that I am deeply flawed, that I have things I need to work on to become the person I want to be, and that she will always be there to help me get there (and smack me back in line when I stray!). I learned that there is no problem, big or small, that cannot be solved with the help of a friend. And if you ever leave your cell phone in an Amsterdam cab at 5am and your friend goes into international roaming just to call him back…that person is a keeper.
I didn’t really know what would happen while I was on this trip. I never thought the things that happened would have happened (especially how frequently we ate McDonald’s. Errrr..). I’m coming home to a new, slightly altered life. One that I will recognize only in the way that one recognizes one’s own voice; in that distorted kind of way, in that ‘is that my voice?’ kind of way. And I’m a little scared. And I wonder if I hadn’t gone on this trip, if things would have eventually gotten to that new point or if it would have remained the same eternally. Ah, the unanswered questions of life.
But, after everything, after the money, the drudgery of travel, the uncertainty of a new city and language, the wine, the food, the snorers, the panicked search for wifi…after all of that, I cannot recommend enough quitting your job and getting on a plane and seeing something new. In my 25 short years I have been made all too aware of how short life is, and how easy it is to let life drift by you like a leaf falling in the Autumn. I don’t want to fill my days with things I’ll never do. And so now, I can cross some things off the list and start making room for more.
It is with melancholy that I leave London this morning. I am leaving my beautiful, talented, determined, intelligent, funny, charming, trendy, best friend behind as she too starts a new chapter in her life. But, all good things must end for new ones to begin. At least now I have an excuse to return to one of my favourite cities over and over again until we both, hopefully, are able to call the same city home once again.
And for those of you who are going to ask, I do not have a favourite city, rather a list of cities I would live in vs cities I would not. My liveable cities are as follows (in order of preference): London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Paris. Nothing too surprising there, I would imagine. That having been said, Salzburg and Venice are two of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. Go there. In fact, go to all the places you’ve ever wondered about, and see that the world is so much bigger than you ever imagined, and yet peculiarly just as small.
So now, if any of you fine people would like to offer me a job I would greatly appreciate it. ;)