Last week was a real trip down memory lane for me. It marked 11 years since I moved back to the UK after living in Lyon, France for a year.
Various things went through my mind before and during the trip. I wondered if anything would seem familiar, if I would feel emotional and how confident I would be with speaking French after only speaking snippets with friends over the last few years.
As soon as we arrived, I found out the answers to all of the above questions. It turns out a lot has changed since I left and the place was barely recognisable up until I got into the city centre. I have to admit that my eyes filled with tears when I stepped onto Place de la Bellecour, the heart of the city centre, for the first time. It hadn’t changed one bit and I started to notice lots of the places that were once home for me and felt a wonderful sense of familiarity finally. The French came back to me immediately and my confidence levels were much higher than when I lived there. This is due to working as a linguist in the UK when I moved back and chats with my French friends.
This was the first big trip I had taken with my partner and it was maybe a strange choice due to quite how overwhelming my emotions were at being back. Memories of a huge and important chunk of my life came flooding back and there was almost too much for me to tell him about. My mind raced and I became a bit of an emotional wreck for the whole week in parts.
The last time I was in Lyon I was 21 year old student. That 21 year old me had no idea what the next 11 years would hold. She definitely didn’t think they would contain so much sadness and pain that at points she no longer felt the will to battle on. She was full of hopes and dreams that were continuously dashed up until this past year when things finally took a turn for the better. One of those better things is my partner, who, despite not knowing me throughout those years, knows of my struggle and how important it was for me to go back to the last place that I felt truly happy.
The trip was wonderful and it soon became clear why I went back…..because I needed to bridge the gap between then and now and make new memories that would carry me forward in this brand new chapter of my life that seems, so far at least, to be a happy one. There is still a lot of work to be done and this will continue throughout my life, but building up a happy memory bank for the tough times is such a wonderful natural way to keep on top of things. I couldn’t have chosen a better person to go back with as this new chapter will heavily feature the gorgeous, strong and brilliant protagonist that is my partner. Thank you, Kelly.
Then – 2004-2005 Now 2015