Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us OTHER.
This could have been the road I travelled: a small side street in Dagenham, on the eastern periphery of London, where my mum and dad settled after the houses were demolished in the middle of London.
I was sure my mum (and perhaps dad) had visions that their little girl would grow up, do everything expected from her, meet a nice guy (emphasis on nice) from London and have a family. Just like everyone else did at that time. I moved out. I have often searched for a reason to tell everyone why, but have not found it, or perhaps did not want to admit why I did it.
I had a good education in a London grammar school, passed my exams and worked in various office jobs in the City of London. I had some friends, spent my spare time hunting for a partner in various dance halls. I was lucky enough to be in London, an interesting world, the days of Carnaby Street, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Beatles and Rolling stones. What went wrong? As far as I am concerned nothing went wrong. Perhaps it was boredom; perhaps it was a vision of a future life with the right bloke in the right place and of course a family to complete the idyll of life, just everything perfect that put me off, eventually saving enough money to buy your own house.
I had my thoughts in another direction. I wanted out, see what the world had to offer. Ok, I loved my mum and dad, they were responsible parents, but was this what I wanted? Sitting in front of a TV every evening, cooking the same food every week, doing the same things, the things that were expected and fit in the picture.
I made my decision in my teenage years. Find a job in another country, learn to speak their language and live their way. Make life an adventure and not a boring day to day routine, stretching out for the next twenty years.
I did it. Of course mum was not very happy, dad seemed to understanding probably thinking on the lines “I wish I had had the chance to do the same” although after being a soldier for five years and returning to a post war London, Europe was in a state of destruction and rebuilding. He had no chance, but I did and I seized the chance.
It was not easy. Finding work advertised in a newspaper for another country was few and far between. After scanning the newspaper day for day my search came to and end. Secretary needed for Switzerland, import/export, please call. I did, met my new boss in a hotel in the West End of London where he was staying at the time, and two days later I had a job in Switzerland. Had to visit the Swiss Embassy to get particulars done for a work permit etc. etc. This all happened sometime in August, and in December I was on my way to Switzerland by boat and train with a case packed filled with hopes and excitement.
I am now married to a Swiss since 44 years; speak a few languages, Swiss German and German fluently with a couple more for good measure. I can read German as well as English books with no problem. We have our own apartment out in the country and the main thing is I am happy with this situation. I had many ups and downs, but reflecting on it all, more ups.
I could have stayed in London, could have got married and had a family, could have been happy owning a house somewhere in the suburbs of London with a little garden, could have worked in an office in a small town in England, but I did not and have never regretted this.
The only fly in the ointment is perhaps that I only saw my parents once a year through visits: that my children grew up rarely seeing their grandparents and that my dad, now 97 years old, still lives in London and only sees his daughter once a year, although we phone every week.
That’s the way the cookie crumbled, you just cannot have everything I suppose.
This is the street where I now live, on the right hand side, somewhere in a small Swiss village out in the wilds.