Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lost at Sea - Part 1

When I was 20, I spent a month travelling across Europe on my own. Last week I started writing about it, responding to a writing prompt "Lost at Sea".  The whole trip was a bit of a mixed experience, and my expectations were so out of sync with the reality. So looking back on it is interesting, and maybe useful. I'll share some of the reflections here over the next few weeks. 

At 20 I was naive enough to tell people I was going ‘to find myself’. Luckily I had enough self awareness to deliver that phrase with sarcasm and knowing, but I did believe it on some level. I believed I would have a deep and wonderful experience. That I would meet interesting people, eat good food, drink wine in street cafes, speak French, take deep breaths on mountains, not care if I missed a train, not plan too much, be free and easy and only decide where I’d go next on a whim. I did all of those things. But what I didn’t have was peace as I did them, and so I didn’t have a deep and wonderful experience – I was sometimes lonely, even when I was with people; and I was sometimes afraid, even when I was safe.

I wasn’t scared of anything external, not really. I didn’t think anything bad would happen to me, like being mugged or kidnapped (and it didn’t) and before I went if anyone questioned my judgement (on her own, a young girl, no mobile phone, hasn’t booked her accommodation, in unknown places, etc.) I’d say ‘bad things can happen anywhere,’ and feel extra mature about my outlook. I remember a few people (Mum, Nana, Grandma etc.) asking with worried brows, ‘But can’t you get anyone to go with you?’ I was aghast – of course I could – if that was what I wanted, but I didn’t. I’d had this idea, I’d bought a couple of guidebooks, a return flight to Amsterdam, a train pass, an incredibly heavy timetable showing details of ALL trains in Europe that summer, and I went.

(... more soon...)


Helen said...

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Teresa Stenson said...

Ah, thanks Helen.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ooh, you intrepid ladybird, you! Twenty is a good age to go off and do stuff on your own, though it may not feel like it for about another ten years, when you can look back and go, blimey, I did all that, on me todd. I wonder what you'll do next? ;)

Teresa Stenson said...

Hm, cook a sausage casserole I reck.

Thanks, Rach - appreciate your support as ever.