This morning, like every morning, I shut the door behind me and walked up the stone steps of my subterranean home, emerging into sunlit-seafront haze. Seagulls cried overhead as my Doc-Martened feet followed cast-iron railings toward the improbable pier. A finch flitted from the hedgerow of a Victorian garden, its bright visage striking against the morning’s pastel blue. Spring is coming.
It has been a year, and everything has changed.
I have exchanged the endless plains of Central Europe for an island life. A life defined by the sea – both my freedom and my captor. A life with more challenges and rewards than I could ever have anticipated. A life that, even as I adjusted to it, threatened to become more insular still.
The political changes of the past year hit us hard. We belong to Europe. Europe made us who we are: every journey, every discovery, every gothic spire that still marks the skyline of our togetherness. That sense will never leave us, whatever our passports say.
There have been times when England seemed as alien as anywhere we discovered abroad. When the culture shock stung more keenly than it ever did in Prague, for all the expectations we laid on our homecoming.
The thing is, we didn’t come home. At least, not in the conventional sense. This year has been a new chapter. A new England to make our own. And so we have, from the sea to the songs to a sharp glimmer of Sussex pride.
And so we will, wherever the next year takes us, whatever adventures await.