It look me a long time to think of where I grew up in those terms though. As a surly teenager, New Hampshire conjured up adjectives and images more along the lines of: boring, oppressive, dull, endless barren wilderness. I felt like New Hampshire living was a straight road to drudgery and essentially, to no where. Save for some pretty scenery (which to a teenager, isn't much of a selling point), I was itchy, restless and bored. Looking for some action, adventure and excitement. New Hampshire wasn't going to deliver, I decided.
So I left. After college in the quaint New Hampshire town of Keene, I took off to the happening city of Boston, MA, joining my boyfriend at the time living just outside the city center. I LOVED this. To me, Boston glimmered and beckoned. I saw it as a symbol of youth, excitement and a progressive thrilling adventure. Weekends were punctuated with nights out surrounded by friends, exploring the loveliest of brick lain townhouse lined neighborhoods, driving home to see family, or in the summer time to a nearby lake or even the ocean, holing up between the aisles of stories in a bookstore on a rainy afternoon, the list goes on.
But as all wonderful chapters do, it came to a close. Life is punctuated by blossoming's, growth, and endings. In September, 2013, I took off for Europe. After studying abroad for a short spurt during college (in Florence, Italy) (very sweet, though much too short) left spellbound and enchanted, I set my sights on the dream of living there someday. For me, Europe was dripping with romance, possibility, history, novelty, and elegance. It was awe-inspiring and full of wonder. I couldn't wait to go back. After studying (and trekking) all over Italy, from the watery, mysterious streets of Venice to hiking the craggy paradise of the Cinque Terre, I vowed on moving there someday.
Fast forward several years later. In the span of six months, I made two of the hardest leaps of my life thus far. Two of the most terrifying and emotionally wrought. I left one of the people I have loved the most in my life. Our relationship, though in many ways beautiful, had come to a close. It was time for me to leave, the two of us wanting vastly different things. And I packed up all of my things into four suitcases and, following my dream, moving halfway across the world to Prague, Czech Republic.
Prague bewitched me from the start. Like the setting of a medieval fairy-tale. With its cobbled streets, ornate buildings, Old Town Square which is impossibly gorgeous and eye-catching, the astronomical clock dominating. I loved all of it. Unable to get enough. Feasting on gingerbread stars-how I imagine Christmas would taste, lounging in parks with a book or game of chess, exploring cute little cafes or delectable restaurants, snapping photos galore, I was in heaven. Totally smitten.
A few months later, I was smitten in an additional way and moved over to Germany. For a change, a new job, and an infatuation. The latter didn't pan out as I pictured, but that is more than OK. Sometimes, not getting what we wished for is an amazing stroke of luck over the long run. Living in Germany was a game changer for me. At the risk of sounding cliche and cheesy, it was unquestionably meant to be.
In the past 2.5 years to be exact, the close friendships I found and poured myself into have filled my heart to overflowing. The places I have traveled, both with friends (who came to visit me from the US as well as with friends I made in Germany), with visiting family members, and even solo, the list is a long one. Places I dreamed of exploring and seeing with my own eyes, I can finally say that I have.
Italy once more, Paris, Portugal, Austria, all over Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland, skiing the Swiss Alps, the French Riviera, the list of cities within these countries I have been to is a long one. The job I had in Frankfurt as a teacher filled me with such joy and a resounding sense of accomplishment. Hearing a chorus of little voices calling my name in the hallways, asking when I will be in their class next. The hugs I received and little gifts I was given by my smiling students. The way their faces lit up when seeing me. This experience was deeply affirming for me. And finally, the work I have done with my writing and on this blog while living here across the pond.
My time in Europe deepened my interest in food, photography and writing, as I am sure you can see from the blog. I love food, in all manner of speaking. Eating it, photographing, making it, serving people I love, recipe testing, sampling new things, searching out the best places to eat on any and all of my adventures. All of it.
Travel continues to fill my heart with awe and the most all-encompassing happiness. Waiting and waiting for the moment when I can snap the perfect photograph, and then finally getting it, this filling me with a rush of satisfaction. And writing, I do it every single day. A notebook is permanently affixed to my hand nearly all the time. Writing for me is close to breathing. Its how I express myself, it brings meaning to my life, and gives me a sense of inner peace.
I fell hard for the life I built in Europe and the experiences I had and continue to have. And I love life in all its messiness, complexity and shades of gray. I love all the nuances involved in human emotion, relationships, friendships, and big life changes and adventure. To me, a life that is neat, clean, perfectly posed, cropped and edited just so for ones viewers or audience, this is neither real nor as interesting. I love what is real. I like the romance, wonder and variation of what life truly is.
I hope my photos...entries...words...may help inspire others to travel, to live more bravely or to add adventure to their lives where they might wish to have more. These are ideas and ways of approaching life that I wish to showcase on this blog.
Watching this blog grow the way it has in terms of responses I have received, along with view count, has stunned me and been an awesome adventure. It fills me with passion and creative whim.
I am always happy to hear from readers! I would welcome hearing from you, whether for comments, upcoming entry ideas, or more.
For a full list of my published works, visit brookeenglish.com.
My other two blogs:
Sweet. Raw. Free. (recipes falling under one, if not several, of the following tiers: gluten-free, grain-free, lactose-free, low in sugar, sugar-free).
Brunches and Books (exactly what the name implies. Rockin reads, and delectable brunching locales).