Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

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.

View from dad's window towards Oxlow Lane

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 โ€œI wish I had had the chance to do the sameโ€ 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.

Thatโ€™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.


Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

25 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

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  5. You have quite a story! My parents have been surprised, as well, with all of the decisions their children have made. They expected me to be more like them; world travelers, moving from adventure to adventure. Instead I’ve settled (for now) with a husband and baby and joined a much more traditional church than the one in which I was raised. My story will be much different from theirs, but still good because it is what I am meant to do. Loved your post!


  6. This caught my attention because I too once lived in a Northfield, but mine was a Way, not a Street, and it was in Nottinghamshire. I too chose a different way of life – I think it was one Sunday when my boyfriend at the time came for Sunday lunch, after which he sat in the lounge watching football with my Dad and brothers, whilst my Mum and I washed up. I suddenly saw my future flash before my eyes, the same old, same old – and thought NO!!
    Jude xx


    • I can really feel you at Sunday lunch. I think my thoughts also went in that direction. I am not saying everyone should be a rebel, but sometimes it is not such a bad choice ๐Ÿ˜‰


      • Agreed – its been an interesting life, though probably too domesticated at present – I still think I have some rebelliousness left in me!


    • Every country has a dialect in its language. People from North England speak differently to those from the South. People from Texas speak differently from those in California (I suppose). German is the same. People in North German speak differently to thos from Bavaria or from Stuttgart, but they all speak German and can speak proper German. Switzerland also has its own dialects and they are many. Even the Germans do not always understand Swiss German, although every Swiss learns proper German at school and the TV programmes are mainly in proper German to simplify matters.
      In Switzerland itself we have about 20-30 main dialects, ways of speaking German, according to where you come from, but it is the language of the people and the Swiss understand it. I speak basically Solothurn German at home, which is similar to Bernese German. It is our language. A small example perhaps. The word in proper German for “I am” is “Ich bin” but we Swiss tend to say “Ig bi”. We do not say “Guten Tag” (Goodday or hello) but say “Gruetzi”. Just a small example. I have just picked it up over the 46 years I have been living here. It is our family language, both my boys speak it and my husband naturally.


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