Strasbourg | A New Life

Everything moves in great, long cycles. You live and live and live and then – pop – in the midst of all that living, you find yourself right back where you started. I am in Manchester Airport. I am always in Manchester Airport.

When Harry Potter died for five minutes or so in the last book of the series (spoiler), he was transported to a sort of personal purgatory – to a ghostly iteration of Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station, which represented the beginning and end of all his adventures. If I was to be slain by an evil wizard and find myself reanimating in a similarly ghoulish middle-ground, I’d bet good money that it’d be Manchester Airport.

I started this blog here, for one thing. Here in this very atrium, World Hangover began. I was 21 years old at the time – six years younger! Fuck! Fuck! – and I wrote my first article sitting about thirty metres from where I’m sat now. It was titled ‘On Airports’ and it was shite. I wrote about the smell of disinfectant and how funny it was watching such a mesh of people beaver about buying things and supping pints. I was drinking a beer while I wrote it and by the time I’d reached 500 words I was too tipsy and lost interest and the thing was never published. It was no great loss to the world of literature.

I set out to Cuba from Manchester Airport, too. Those messy, mind-expanding weeks began right here, and changed who I am forever. When I left England for Berlin, it was again through Manchester Airport. All the chaos that would follow in that wild city began here. And then most recently, when I returned from the whole 2018 travelling odyssey, I flew back into Manchester. Always this airport. Always this great glass chamber ringed with shops.

It’s different this time – the airport is almost empty, and the few souls that are here are clad in surgical masks, travelling alone. No stag dos and hen parties, no families jetting off, no young backpackers on the first leg of a mammoth journey that’ll shape them forever. Just individual travellers, mostly on business I assume. Or maybe they’re all moving to France, like me.

Today is the big move. In a few hours I’ll be in Strasbourg with Jeanne, beginning a new life. The past two weeks have been spent between Bristol and Leeds tying up loose ends – goodbyes and paperwork – and now all that’s left to do is fly. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m reeling, I’m hopeful. It’s been a long time since I was genuinely excited by life – though I guess that’s the same for everybody. It’s nice to feel excited again. Adventure: I’ve missed it so much.

Everything moves in great, long cycles. Once again I am in Manchester Airport, about to board a plane, about to begin a new life, and once again, there is everything for the taking.

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