When I first moved to London, nearly 10 years ago, I kept a travel blog. It was an easy way to update friends and family about my travels in a pre-Facebook age. I was off on my big adventure. I had my one-way ticket out of Auckland and the world was my oyster. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do!
[I remember the morning before I jumped on the plane I was in the shower and just had this big panic attack and turned into a sobbing mess (proper ugly sobbing) – I was terrified, like leaving-all-the-safety-nets-of-home terrified. I just want to say, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier with age and experience. ]
A few months into my adventure I was settled into London… in the job I was to stay with for nearly 10 years, living above a street I’m still living above. And on my travel blog I wrote this list of things I loved about London:
1. London is the world’s biggest intersection. There’s always someone I know passing through. I’ve had so many house guests lately – and it’s great. I love taking people around the neighbourhood. And catching up with some of the people I’ve met on my travels.
2. I’m never bored. I guess that’s what you get from a city of over 8 million people – there’s always heaps to do – people to hang out with – pubs to sit in – galleries/museums to visit. I’m not too sure I’ll get through everything I want to before I have to head back to NZ.
3. The people here are mad. And that’s always entertaining.
4. My local pub has become my second living room. In fact, my first living room cos my flat doesn’t have one.
5. I’ve got this whole new bunch of lovely friends, who look out for me, who enjoy hanging out, who are all wonderful. This is a very cool thing.
6. I get a huge amount of holidays here. And there’s no shortage of places to go to use them up. This is very exciting. I just seem to lurch from one holiday to the next.
7. I’m completely in love with my job. Yay. Maximum job satisfaction.
I still stand by (most) of that list! London is the world’s greatest city. The place heaves with life, not just in that there are so many people, but in its vibrancy and diversity. In its sense of itself, its confidence, its history, in the way it changes constantly. Most importantly, London has a brilliant sense of humour.
So there’s a big part of me can’t believe I’m leaving. But London has a Peter Pan mentality. If you’re not careful it sucks you in and convinces you that life is so good here that there is no need to move on. And sometimes in life, you just gotta move on.
So, in about two months’ time, I’ll farewell my London family. My life will once again be reduced to boxes and a couple of suitcases. One morning in February I’ll find myself ugly sobbing in the shower. And then I’ll get on a plane to Albania.