Two years ago this week I left a good, if rather dull career in finance to start a new life in the South of France. I was a bit younger than Peter Mayle so I didn’t see myself with John Thaw and a pig searching for truffles. Also, I am much more of a cynical bugger than Elizabeth Gilbert so I wasn’t expecting to discover food, spirituality and sex with the same gusto as Julia Roberts although, obviously, I am open to enlightenment in any of these three areas.
Instead I deliberately had no expectations – that way I thought I couldn’t fail.
I am a terrible traveler, shockingly atrocious in fact. Having suffered badly from IBS for over a decade I hadn’t even been on holiday abroad in oh so many years. But nonetheless, out of practice and with desperately low confidence I armed myself with a large enough supply of Imodium to bung up an elephant for a few months; a fascinating but practically useless travel book; and one large and one small suitcase (yep suitcases, two of them) full of things I didn’t need and nothing of what I did and headed cautiously into my new life.
It turned out that after a few months, even though I loved it in the South of France, I wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. I was feeling wild and free, like the sea – or if not wild then at least I had the desire to moderately misbehave. What I was sure of was that now I was on the road, albeit tentatively and with still with a pocket full of Imodium, I didn’t want to get off it. Some call it wanderlust, some itchy feet or maybe at my age it’s just plain old Peter Pan syndrome. A wise woman I know believes that we of the generation X variety have too many choices and when offered with such a seemingly infinite array of options we become paralysed with indecision. And my Ma is right, as two years on I am still not ready to stop. So I have created this itinerant life, house-sitting my way around Europe, discovering new people and places and meeting up with old friends. It’s by no means a perfect life but it’s sure as hell more fulfilling and entertaining than working in finance.
Incidentally, the book was “The French Riviera: A Literary Guide for Travellers” by Ted Jones which I can highly recommend for its insight into the writers lives who spent time on the Riviera and it truly was a wonderful prism to see the region through. But I’d also recommend taking an actual travel guide with you if you want, you know, actual travel advice.
Whilst writing this post I have been mainly been listening to ‘Born to be wild’ by Steppenwolf – I don’t think I was but I am certainly working on it now…