Travel

The Grand Escape Plan: Part II

I am writing this from a TGV train, as it speeds south from Paris, through the French countryside, and towards la Côte d’Azur.

So, I guess, we have… escaped!

After months of planning, we are finally on our way. By the time you read this, we will have arrived at our new apartment and probably started on the wine.

It’s been a week of ‘lasts’; last day in the office, last commute, last gym session, last chance to go to that bar/restaurant/museum/show… I thought they’d pass with some significance but life moves on too fast for that.

Of everything, it was the ‘last’ coming home that felt the most real. Turning into my road on autopilot. The awkward tug and twist of the old lock. Stepping through my front door for the last time, into the familiar smell and that sense of complete security. My heart gave a little yelp then.

It’s been my home as I adjusted to the adulting rollercoaster, the place I’ve laughed, cried and dreamed the hardest, and a time I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Now my room has been packed up, a few prized possessions squeezed into a rucksack (and a suitcase, and a (large) handbag), goodbyes have been said, and we have gone.

There was no great fanfare as the Eurostar shot out of the tunnel and into France. No revelation as we disembarked. There’s been no mystical transformation. Even the fields and trees outside the window look the same just now. Everything is as it was and yet, when I look back in years to come, I know I will see just how much this decision changed my life.

I like to imagine that in a parallel universe, where I had not made this decision to leave, there is an Anastasia going about her usual Saturday routine; sweating it out at the HIIT class, stuffing her face with whatever amalgamation the fridge provides, then listening to awful radio as she showers, squeezing in a couple of hours writing, and then getting ready to meet her boyfriend.

I’m not saying goodbye to that version of myself because we carry each version of us always. But I am saying goodbye to her routine. The hellish commute, the office slavery, the exhausted (wasted) evenings. I’m stripping those unhealthy, enforced habits and going in search of new ones.

I take with me the memories and, hopefully, lessons learned. Most of all I take the people I’ve met along the way and the amazing, permanent impressions they’ve made. But of all the things I have to leave behind, the little home I had made with some of my best friends was hardest to say goodbye to.

By closing its door behind me, I closed the door on that part of my life. It tastes bittersweet, and it looks a bit like tears, but it feels like freedom. And, while I am a little nervous, the main feeling I’m experiencing right now is pure, unfettered and wild excitement, because I really have no idea what will happen next.

Subscribe to find out. A bientôt! x