My car speeds down the country lane, twisting expertly around the sharp bends, and swerving around the dips in the surface I’d travelled over 100 times before. Day in, day out. I flick the windscreen wipers to the next level as they are no longer adequately fending off the heavy rain.
How many times had I seen the city come into view down below the hill I was driving along – and how many times had I glanced in my rear-view mirror and seen the city lights shimmering as I said goodbye for another day? How many times had I seen this same road looking as it did now, wet, grey and lifeless, versus how many times had I seen it bathed in sunlight, sunglasses on, windows down, radio up? How many times had I driven down this road truly happy, belly swirling with excitement, compared to how many times I had driven down here full of dread for another day exactly the same as yesterday?
I’ve always had this feeling that life wasn’t meant to be predictable or lived in one place. We weren’t meant to live the same 24 hours over and over, waiting for permission to take two weeks in the sun every year. Life, for me, is supposed to be filled with adventure and excitement, with laughter and happy tears, with sunshine and oceans, cocktails and good friends. Not dull commutes and endless grey skies and supermarket meal deals.
There’s a phrase I always come back to when I’m feeling sad about how little of the world I’ve seen. I’ve never even been to Paris. The city of love one country over. The city a train ride away. The city everyone seems to have explored before me. Sometimes, on those long drives to the office, I can’t stop my brain going off on a morbid tangent. If it all ended right now, what would I have to show for it? Would I die happy? I have this great desire to explore the world yet I’ve never even been to Paris.
It’s not Paris that I’m longing for, as lovely as I’m sure it is, but it’s the freedom to explore and the need to see everything, that is fighting with the knowledge that I haven’t seen nearly enough yet I’m already trapped. I think of Paris because it seems so attainable but I haven’t managed it yet. It’s not Paris I’m focusing on as I’m sure after I’ve strolled the quaint cobbled streets and seen the Eiffel tower shimmering in the night sky, another city will replace it. I’ve never even been to Berlin. I’ve never even been to Rome. Because for all the things I’ve done and all the places I’ve seen it isn’t enough.
And I’m not sure it ever will be enough.
Will I just be replacing cities until I’ve run out, or until I’m saying I’ve only ever been to Paris once? Will I ever be content as I drive down a grey, lifeless road, flicking the windscreen wipers down to the next level so they can fend off the incessant rain? Will I ever be happy seeing the same roads and faces day in day out, or will I always be thinking of foreign streets and unknown places for ever more?
I guess only time will tell. But, until then, I have a lot of planning and exploring to do. After all, I’ve never even been to Paris!
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