Are You Ready for Toulouse? Less Than Two Months to Go!
This was the message that dropped into my inbox today. I was already aware of the two-month countdown having begun, but thankyou for reminding me (enter generic budget airline here)…
The message filled me with terror, it’s true, but comparatively, this minor gut-wrenching panic was surprisingly short-lived.
My current living arrangements are turning out to be quite the metaphor for my mental transformation over the last 20-something days.
The house has had the odd day when it’s decided not to function as a house- springing leaks, refusing water- just as I’ve had the odd Premature Alice Moment (“I’m just going to want to come home!”)
I stuffed my fears into an old filing cabinet in an abandoned office guarded by a dragon in the back of my brain and re-discovered and brought back with me my Positive Mental Attitude, which had been mistakenly filed under ‘X’, while the house was relieved of its old joker of a boiler and was given a shiny new one.
Although I privately nicknamed the old boiler “Jigsaw”, for I felt every morning shower was a game, a game of how fast you can shower before you are scalded/frozen to death, I’m not convinced the new one isn’t just as evil.
The new boiler, by way of telling you it’s waiting patiently in the dark, unfinished bathroom to do its job, lights up with a creepy, electric blue glow. The blue light is ring-shaped: a perfect, robotic, Portal-esque eye, that stares at me through the dark (there is not, as yet, a functioning landing light) as I emerge from the existing bathroom wrapped in a towel and jet down the stairs to avoid its gaze…
It’s okay to be scared of the shiny new things, especially when you’d got quite comfortable with the old ones (even if you did get occasionally burned). But change can be good. And I’m telling myself that my year in Toulouse, like the house, will eventually be beautiful, even if it’s messy at first. And I’ll get used to the scary bits.
So yes, just like the house, I’m slowly throwing away the old to make way for the new. Although in my case what’s being thrown away is every negative thought and nerve-induced vom-fest, to leave more room for excitement and rational thinking.
I’ve gone from denial that the Year Abroad is even happening, to voicing rational fears (and many irrational ones), to nearly chickening out, to booking flights, to pretending I’m just going on holiday, to securing accommodation, to distracting myself with work, back to denial, to finally feeling the slightest glimmer of excitement. Which was promptly extinguished. Then reignited.
I’m there. I’m finally there. I’m ready to go. And it’s going to be terrifying. And amazing. And memorable. And fun. And full of firsts. And when I come back I’m going to want to do it all over again. And maybe I will. If The Wife will let me.*
*The Wife, although it is her that is behind the almost two-year- running gag that I am in fact leaving for France because I am a bad friend, will surely support further travel and exciting things, because she is in fact a good friend. She** may even want come with me as long as she is at no point forced to speak French.
** Further participants welcome.