“Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art.”
Or would I? The simplest definition of the word is “fixed in direction”. Looking back on the last years of my life, the idea is laughable. Having abandoned Albion for the stranger charms of Central Europe, my travels have taken me from the catcreeps of Venice to the cliff tombs of Turkey, all centred around the thousand spires of my sometime-hometown, Prague.
Prague and I have had a difficult relationship, it must be said. Like all great beauties, she has been distant at times, reserved and icy in the face of my eager affections. Like all great cities, she has her dark sides. And yet here, on the eve of my departure, it is the light that I remember – sunrise stalking across Charles Bridge on a still-tipsy 5am sojourn; he and I, the only living, laughing souls on the stage of stone sentinels. The line between light and shade rippled over cobbles like an argent wave – a glimpse of Shakespeare’s Bohemian sea.
And of course, it is to the sea that I flee now. My two-year landlocked lungs tremble at the thought of saltine-scented bracing breezes, rippling through the born-again British seaside town that’s chosen me as home. I exchange cobbled lanes for pebble beaches, sacred spires for rotting planks, flying buttresses for fish butties. The inevitable next chapter is carried on the bleak cries of gulls.
Is it madness, I must ask myself, for a writer to turn away from an undeniable fairy tale in favour of fondly faded glory? Perhaps so, but then it was madness that brought Sam and I here in the first place; mad for one another, for a change of scene, for the first chapter in our joint saga. And this is the second: our little home by the endless sea, a whirlwind music scene, finding our tribe and beauty in strange places. The pulse-quickening promise of adventures yet to be had.
Buckling the leather straps on my battered case for the final time, I smile – for in this, at least, we are steadfast.