There was once a chance I didn’t take and I am the better for it. The choice was between Europe and a possible life with my then-boyfriend. Romantic films would often lead the heroine taking the latter choice, but I didn’t. I thought I was in love but when I look back, I know it was the dark side of me that was speaking. Not my heart, nor even my loins, just the side that was broken, hoping that a partner could fix anything and everything. But I found a better partner and his name was “Europe.” Europe took me in. He’s an old man. Full of wisdom but he won’t tell you his secrets or the lessons that you need to grow. He let’s you discover it for yourself. I made a lot of mistakes but those missteps made me an adult. They made me a woman. A woman who learned that she didn’t need another to complete her. That a lone walk along the canals of Paris, through the markets of Spain – with the scent of sunkissed strawberries in the air – or even on the gray, graffiti-adorned bridges of Berlin on a winter’s night was more than enough.
I miss Europe. I left out of sheer panic. A fearfulness crept in. Maybe I got jaded. I got older. Wiser? Not always. I don’t regret leaving. Well, maybe just when I look up at Christmas lights and feel the heat of the tropical eve. I miss December evening strolls. The chill wind reminding me to keep my eyes open and my soul alert. And alert I was: the comings and goings of fellow travelers,the change in seasons and longer hours of darkness (growing up in Southeast Asia, I was only familiar with two weather patterns – sunny and rainy – autumn and winter was new for me). The melody of my old world haunts – bicycle bells, chugging trains, boot-laden footsteps – would rise up and with each step, would lift me off the ground.
Europe. Oh, darling Europe…You simply swept me off my feet.