I’ve always been terrified of the idea of suburbia. There’s a very clear memory that I have of visiting my cousins, and both of our families taking a Sunday walk to the local play area under gloomy grey skies. I watched the other people doing the same thing as us and thought: dear God, I do not want this life.
The sad thing is that I always thought that was inevitable.
My childhood was beyond lovely. Aside from the torture of not being allowed MacDonalds and fizzy pop every week I was very lucky. But growing up in a small town, all you were ever exposed to was 2.4 children, house and a steady job. My experience of other places in the UK showed it to be a universal concept. I’d have to get a degree, find a job and eventually buy a house. Work, pay off my mortgage, and then die.
Not such a bad existence, not really. But the thought of it still made the insides of my younger self twist uncomfortably. Even before my age was in double digits.
I held this inevitability with me until I turned 20.
Because then I went to the Edinburgh fringe.
Obviously I knew that people working in theatre existed, but in much the same way that I know New York exists. It was real to me only through films and fiction. But spending weeks moving amongst thousands of people who paid their rent doing something creative was truly eye opening. I was Dorothy finding a world of technicolour.
Of course once you’re out of the Matrix other things become clear too. Where once I’d make plans certain that I’d never be able to follow through I now felt empowered to take my life in a different direction. I realised that I was able to make decisions about things that would truly throw me off the path I thought I’d be following forever. My world expanded.
It was just something you said: “I’ll move to a hot country one day.” But you never really believed you’d do it.
And then, I did.
Would I have been brave enough to move to London, let alone Australia, had I not been inspired to broaden my horizons in Edinburgh 9 years ago? I hope so, but I suspect not.