Have you ever wondered if your life could’ve gone differently had you taken another path? Have you ever wanted to learn more about that alternative version of you, living in a parallel world defined by the choices you didn’t make, but could’ve made?
I don’t know you yet, but I am sure you nodded. Because we are all, at some point in our lives, unsure of the decisions we made and the places they led us to. Sometimes even, it is not so much decisions we had control over but rather just… life.
As far as I’m concerned, in the 24 years that I have lived so far, I believe there are 3 crucial moments that have defined me. I call those turning points. Of course, life is filled with moments that define us, it is filled to the brim. But put simply, there are the small moments – those that describe what we like and why, and the big moments – those that only start to make sense with hindsight.
The first turning point was when I was 7 – “The big move”, our relocation from Bulgaria to Morocco. I didn’t know it then, but Morocco was about to change my life. Morocco opened up new horizons for me, I learnt French better than I know my native language, I fell in love with the country, with the sun, the smell of the ocean, the pearly white shells I used to collect, with the people, the almond pastries, the forests of wind-blown trees and abandoned barques on the shore… I fell in love with it all, no wonder I am writing a novel revolving around it.
The second turning point was, ironically, the moment we left Morocco. After 10 years – the equivalent of a lifetime in the mind of a teenager – it was time to go “home”. I’m not going to lie, I hated it. To this day, I find myself wishing we’d never left but of course, with hindsight, I realise how vital it was that we leave. And so, we numbered all our boxes and flew back where it had all begun –Sofia. I went to French school for the last three years of high-school, had the chance to meet who became the most exceptional best friend I could ever hope for, I re-established a relationship with the family I had only seen once or twice a year for 10 years and I got to rediscover my country, the majestic mountains, the long hikes, the snowy winters, the smell of fur trees, the strolls to the market with my granddad…
The third and last turning point is related once again to a move – I can see a pattern forming here – my move to England. But what lies behind that move? A big, big decision : I was offered a bursary to study in a French university and I turned it down because I had decided my near-future had to unfold in England. It was a quick decision at the time, ordinary, like waving a fly off your cheek. And often I wonder what I would’ve become had I gone to university in France.
But what I know for sure is that I would not have learnt English with the same passion and to the same level, I would not have spent my Sundays riding along the undercliff walk from Brighton to Saltdean, I would not have met my partner and very first editor, I would not be here in London, working on my third refurbishment project with a fantastic team and writing this novel in a language that you would understand.
And what’s funny is that, in order to be accepted in a UK university and be eligible for a student loan, I had to have lived in an EU country for a minimum of 3 years. Well that would have failed had I stayed in Morocco.
So right now, I feel like smiling.