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The Leaving Journal

Yvoire, France

FRANCE | Sunday, 6 September 2015 | Views [323]

Last night, as I strolled through Lausanne with Sarina, Craig and Baby Malia, I felt the blissful, sudden on-set of euphoria that always appears shortly after I begin a new adventure. These moments are precious: the early stages of travel when bonds are being forged and your environment holds fresh newness. 

This afternoon, as I strolled through the tiny, ancient village of Yvoire in France, it hit me again: euphoria. (Yes, I am seeing a connection between strolling and euphoria.) It's the same freedom that so frightened and confused me in France and Spain a few years ago. There is no one to answer to, nothing dictating my path. We are rarely faced with an opportunity to truly follow our instincts. Or perhaps it's that we're not as inspired to listen to those instincts when a place is no longer new. Which ivy-drenched, cobblestone alley way calls to me? Left, right, straight ahead? Stand still, stop and turn around? Wander into a store full of sparkly, crystal things I'd never buy. Stare at pink flower boxes brimming with poppies. Close my eyes, bathe in the noisy, unfamiliar melody of French and German. Walk slowly with the crowd or run down empty streets. Spend 20 minutes examining the map or don't ever pick one up. Take excessive photos from the same angle or don't ever get the camera out of the bag. Spend two hours finding the perfect seat in the perfect cafe on the perfect street with the perfect view or sit at the first one you see. (I did the former, quite out of character.)

This feeling of freedom is so unvisited. I think of it as a constantly-exercised right but then I never allow myself any of it. I create a demanding, routine reality I can't escape and when presented with freedom, I try to bury it in dates and appointments and tasks and responsibilities. I know I'm in good company - most everyone does this - but I'm grateful to have rediscovered my freedom just this afternoon, in a pedestrian village on the French shore of Lac Lemán.

Yvoire is a tourist town, a quality that is usually a major deterrent for me. I took the 45-minute ferry ride across Lake Geneva at Sarina's suggestion and I'm very glad I did. Thick vines and layers of ivy have overgrown the staggered stone buildings, entire walls are swallowed with gardens and flower boxes fill every wood-shuttered window. The burnt orange, shingled roofs are a collection of sharp triangles against the blue sky, the pale robin's-egg of summer with just a hint of autumn's depth. Stone stairs with iron railings lead up to heavy, wooden doors. This town is reiterated all over Europe - it's classic, quintessential, lovely.   


Tags: castles, ferry, france, freedom, languages

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