It’s not that I regret the choices I’ve made. Had I planned my life carefully I doubt very much I’d be in a happier situation than this. Everything is as I’d want it – we’re leaving Soham, moving into a beautiful place in the country, I’m writing for a living and my husband is earning enough that we can start saving up for a house.

And yet…

It’s the lost potential. Now that I’m settled, I’m starting to realise that there isn’t just me anymore. The enormity of the commitment I’ve made is weighing heavily on my conscience and for the first time, I’m wondering if I am selfless enough to sustain my current life. I have to think of S- now when I go swanning off up the country, have to remember that I can’t just pick up everything at the drop of a hat like I used to, sail up to Edinburgh and to hell with the petrol costs. There is someone else depending on my income, on my presence. On me.

As soon as I stepped through the door an hour ago I desperately wanted to turn around, get back into the afore-mentioned Ford and hightail it to the border, never to look back… although saying that, perhaps Charlie Micra is a wiser move as taking my own car wouldn’t constitute theft…

Either way, I’m beginning to doubt my strength of character. In order to keep things as they are, in this state of socially accepted security, I have to give up so much of my old life, of my old self. I saw an ex while I was at home, and though he was happy with his wife and their child, my immediate thought was, “Ha! Dodged that bullet!” He seemed to have given up on an interesting life. He drove a Vauxhall for fuck sake – the car for people who just don’t care anymore.

I shouldn’t be thinking like that. I shouldn’t look at someone in the position I have been aiming for – consciously or not – and want to crow about how, by not being burdened by responsibility, I am better off. And the really ridiculous thing is that I do have responsibilities. I just end up sitting behind the wheel of the car, seeing the intoxicating signs that say ‘The North’ and I forget everything. I’m on the road with two of my best friends and I never want it to end. I just want to drive until we lose the land and keep going by boat, by rail, by whatever we can find.

I stood at the top of Bennachie with J- this week and felt free, like I’d been released from the stagnating thoughts that finally killed the last vestiges of my creativity – worrying about work, houses and all the other things that we fill our lives with and which don’t matter. I never want to stay still again – never want to stop trying to reach the roof of the world with people I adore. I just find myself moving further and further from my old dreams and buying into the life I swore I’d never have.

First comes love, second comes marriage, then comes the baby in the golden carriage.

I used to strive towards living on a boat in the Norfolk Broads, with a big fat cat for company. I wanted to be the girl from ‘Drops of Jupiter’ by Train* and have countless almost-love affairs, full of meaningful glances and not-quite-touches and break the hearts of everyone who saw me. I wanted to write the most tragic love story since Romeo and Juliet, and I wanted people to laugh along with it. I wanted to die unexpectedly at the age of 45 in a road accident involving a Black Shadow motorcycle, and tell the man who’d been my true love all along, from my death bed, that it had all been for him.

But I don’t suppose I’m that interesting. I’m a writer, afterall, and I dream about people like this. In reality, I clean my house, cook my dinners and don’t go tearing half way across the country to announce my feelings in epic speeches. I don’t visit the people I love often enough and make the usual excuses as to why. For the most part, I even drive the speed limit.

No, it’s not that I regret the choices I’ve made – I am happy – but I do wonder what possibilities are closed to me now. I don’t want to let another day slip by without making something that the sentimental side of my brain can call a memory, and that the rest of me will feel is an adventure. I want to drive down side roads without knowing where they go, start walking at dawn into the wild blue yonder and find myself in places I’d never otherwise have found. And whilst I’ll never be the girl in the boat who breaks hearts, maybe I can be something closer to her than I am now. Perhaps my life and hers aren’t all that incompatible afterall.

First thing tomorrow, I’m driving out to Wicken Fen – far too fast – with my Moleskine and a pencil. It’s time to write my tragedy.

_____

*Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there?

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane told a story about a man
Who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?

And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you’re wrong?

Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance
Five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me?

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself?

And did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day?
And did you fall for a shooting star?
Fall for a shooting star?
And now you’re lonely looking for yourself out there

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