I leave for America in three weeks, to live there for the foreseeable future. So for the next 21 days I’m writing down one memory per day of my time living in Europe. As a writing exercise but also as a way to test my brain. You can read them all here.

Day 7 | Italy, August 2008

I left Japan in July of 2008 after 18 months living there and came home to Europe via south east Asia and America. I ended my trip at my mom’s, because that seemed like a good idea at the time and I hadn’t seen her in years. She lived in Milan by that point, on her own since moving back to Italy in the early 2000s to look after my grandad shortly before he passed.

It was only after I’d arrived in Milan that I realised I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I genuinely hadn’t thought about it until then. I left Japan because both my love and work life had unraveled over the course of a few months and leaving seemed like the right thing to do. Plus I’d saved some money for a world trip of sorts I’d promised myself and so I took shit hitting the fan as a sign that the trip was likely the best option of a bad bunch.

It’s funny, everytime I look back on it I find myself surprised just how little I’d been prepared for the reality that I was in fact returning to live with my mom at the age of 29. It’s a sobering thought for anyone who wants to own their lives and not be dependent on a parent.

I only stayed in Milan for about six months before returning to London. I lived on a pull-out bed in my mom’s living room. It was weird. But it was good too. The sort of experience that forces you to reassess a lot of things. Decide what you want. It put me on the path I find myself on today. Even if back then it felt like a regression.

One step forward. Two steps back.

But then I guess what I’ve realised is that the steps forward aren’t as clear cut as you think they’ll will be. It’s only once you’ve moved on and reached a new stage in life that you realise that despite all the seeming backwards steps you’ve actually moved forward.

I wasn’t supposed to leave Japan. I wasn’t supposed to move in with my mom. I wasn’t supposed to break up with a girl I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I wasn’t supposed to move back to London into the same 9–5 I had before. And it’s through all those things I wasn’t supposed to do that I got to a place where I could achieve things I never thought of.