Wander, Wonder, Write

The Beginning of Freedom

“Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places.”

 —Salmon Rushdie

I was on the lookout when change came and found me.

After twenty years in Paris, after eighteen years of writing, working, and living in the same lovely-crappy-inspiring atelier, I felt myself stagnating, waiting for a chance to break out of my isolation and transform myself. I considered taking a job that would require me to leave my house more often, but I never took action. You’d hate the regular hours, I told myself, and as a Dutch native, you shouldn’t jeopardize your grasp on the English language by speaking French all day long.

Pretexts, of course: a new job was not the answer. I wanted to get out of the city, get away.

What kept me in Paris was my American husband—let’s call him D—and his work in music and film that required him to be here. But even when his line of work changed, became more like mine, unbound by location, we made no plans to leave. He refused to give up a home that had given him so much inspiration, and I had no clear idea where else I wanted to live: Paris was one of the best places in the world, right?

The truth was: We dreaded moving. We dreaded wasting creative time on practical matters. We feared that we’d open a door to find trouble on the other side, that we’d end up somewhere worse than where we were now. 

In November 2018, our landlady informed us that she was going to sell our home. We grumbled a bit, miffed that we couldn’t buy what we’d already considered ours, but we soon accepted the fact as an opportunity. We were not on the edge of losing everything. We were given a gentle push to shake up our life and take it elsewhere. 

Yet where? Neither of us had a strong enough desire to relocate to one particular place, so we dreamed and wondered: Could we live nowhere for a while and travel the world? Could we go… everywhere? 

Well, we’re on our way to find out, the train tracks sliding beneath us as I write. First destination Zürich, Switzerland. 

Who’s coming with us?

* Photo: the boots I bought as a teenager and wore when I left our Parisian home.