As a StoryTerrace writer, Andreina interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
When I was seventeen years old, I went on my first date with my first boyfriend. Eighteen years later, we split up.
I’d spent almost two decades as one half of a dream team, hurtling along a track through our twenties and thirties – careers, travelling, buying our first home… And then somehow I screeched to a halt in a mouse-infested one-bedroom flat – alone for the first time in my adult life.
To say I didn’t know how to get up in the morning sounds exaggerated, but it was true. When you live with someone that long, everything is knitted together. You get up at 6:50 and jump in the shower before he gets up at 7:00. You drink tea because one of you has made a pot. You switch on BBC Breakfast because that’s what we do.
And suddenly I was staring at my new single-person teapot wondering, why tea? Why not coffee? Why London and not somewhere else? Why journalism and not dog training? If this one huge thing could change, anything else could too.
Waves of panic hit me constantly. Anything I did – whether it was a work meeting or just driving my car – I’d count all the ways it could go wrong. My world was on shaky, crumbling ground. But there was a thrill there too, because everything that made me Me was suddenly up for grabs.
My mind kept flitting back to the one big continuity in my life: the summers I spent at my grandparents’ house in Val Trebbia, Northern Italy. Eventually I found myself quitting my job and buying a one-way ticket. Maybe there I could find the New Me.
The house was full of memories. The little jelly shoes I used to wear on the beach, the Regency romances I’d devoured as a moody teen, a T-shirt my grandmother had hated and hidden – tissue-thin layers that went into making me who I was, long before I became one half of a couple. I made new memories too, exploring the valley by bike and finding new mountain rivers to swim in.
I still wasn’t the New Me when I caught that plane back, but by then I understood. We’re supposed to keep changing like this. We’re never a finished work of art, just a big, messy collage of feelings and experiences, constantly being tweaked. Always a work in progress. And that’s the way I like it.