Skip to main content

On one year

In 2009, I returned to Australia after my first time living in the UK. I was ready to leave London, ready to be back home in my beloved Melbourne. The pain of being parted from my parents and sister had been too much to bear. As had the woeful weather, the life-crippling salary and the constant battle with eight million other people. As much as I had enjoyed most of my time in Bath and London, February of 2009 was bitterly cold with a snow blizzard blanketing the city the day before I was due to fly out. I went to bed that night hoping my flight would not be cancelled. I was done with England. Or, at least, I thought I was.
See how it's a photo of Melbourne AND London?

It would be some years before I felt ready to return to the UK. Which I did, in 2013, on a three-week holiday. As soon as I touched down after that exhausting flight, I knew I had been wrong to stay away for so long. As I rode the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, I revelled in how familiar everything was. When I arrived at Paddington, goose bumps covered my entire body and I had to choke back tears. (It wouldn’t be the done thing to show so much emotion at a train station in the middle of London, surrounded by harassed commuters and tourist.) I was instantly in love again. London was alive. Every part of the city offered a chance of a new adventure and I threw myself into my holiday as I hurried to get a black cab (my Australian salary being much, much better than it ever would be in the UK) to take me to my hotel. I didn’t stop smiling, and had tears in my eyes, for the whole journey.


After my UK holiday/revelation, I was back at my desk at work, staring at my pin board. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence in itself – I often stared at the board which was filled with inspirational quotes, beautiful images and a publishing schedule that always left me feeling halfway between joy and heartburn. But on this day, I knew something was missing. After a quick internet search, I found what I was looking for. It was a photograph of the city of Edinburgh (a city which had been part of my recent UK holiday) as seen from high above at Carlton Hill. The city, looking beautiful at dusk, was added to my pin board as a nice reminder of my holiday. 

At the time, I had honestly believed I had pinned up that photograph to be reminded of my brilliant holiday. We've all done it. Needed a little help to get through those post-holiday blues. But as the days, weeks and months went on, that photograph began to represent something more. It reminder that, actually, I had enjoyed living in the UK and perhaps if I had been at a different stage of my life and career, I wouldn’t have been so eager to leave when I did.

Every day for three years, I looked at that photograph and wondered if I would ever consider another move. Every day for three years, I looked at that photograph and wondered if I would ever consider a different kind of life. Every day for three years, I looked at that photograph and finally realised my story with the UK had not quite finished.
The photo that I looked at for those three years.

Three weeks ago, I found myself at Carlton Hill, looking out over the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I was looking at the exact view that had been pinned to my board at work for three years.

<dramatic pause>

There weren’t ENOUGH goose bumps to cover my body that day. My face wasn’t big enough for the smile that imprinted itself and my eyes glistened with so many tears that I was momentarily blinded.

Sure, it wasn’t dusk and the weather was so terrible that my attempt at recreating that photograph failed before I had taken out my phone from my jacket pocket, but it didn’t matter. I was looking at that view not from my desk of a job and life I'd known for so, so long. I was looking at that view as a new person, with a new life, in a new city. 

I have been living in London for one year. My life looks nothing like it ever has. Every day brings new challenges, new adventures, new opportunities. London makes me happy, miserable, fulfilled and wanting more. I pine for my family every day, the weather is still ridiculous, my salary is non-existent and I’m nowhere near done.

Not yet.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On accidentally becoming a cat person

Building a new life in a new city can throw challenges at you both big and small. Most challenges are to be expected; learning a new public transport system, setting up a bank account, finding the local pub, getting a job, making friends. Some are not; Brexit, realising your old winter clothes are a laughing stock when compared to ACTUAL winter clothes, Brexit, knowing your phone calls home will always mean one side of the conversation is just waking up while the other is on its way to being drunk and never the two wavelengths shall meet, Brexit.
What I hadn’t planned on were challenges that would fundamentally change who I was. And in that respect, there is one challenge needs addressing, and has needed addressing for some time. For the eagle-eyed amongst you, you will have noticed a certain someone who has crept into my Twitter feed and onto my ‘currently reading’ page. And for those of you who have spotted this certain someone, and also know me well, will surely be wondering WHAT TH…

On the privilege of seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (no spoilers, promise!)

Beloved characters from books, films and television shows are often sacred ground for us fans. We have journeyed with them, taken them into our hearts and think about them when our real lives are being a little less than spectacular. And so, when these characters are revisited for what sometimes feels like a money grab, and what sometimes is (I’m sure) a form of closure for the creatives, we wait with the duelling emotions of hope and fear, wondering if those in charge are about to wreck everything. Most often than not, they do wreck things, a lot (Mitch Hurwitz and your Arrested Development season 4 shambles, I’m looking at you!). While I always want more Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy didn’t quite do it for me and I’m terrified about seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby for fear that watching it will forever ruin the first film and first two books for me. Similarly, I’m nervous about the upcoming Gilmore Girls episodes even though I’d give my right arm to go back to Stars Hollow. And maybe…

On buying toilet paper in a new city

It’s the little things. They’re the parts of life that can offer the greatest moments of joy or send you into the darkest depths of despair. This is true never more so than when you’re trying to create a new life away from the comfort, security and familiarity of home.
The first time I moved to the UK was ten years ago. I was in my mid-twenties (read: actual mid-twenties) and I was lucky enough to have arrived with a job and friends to stay with until I got my own place sorted. Nevertheless, I still experienced some sharp learning curves and long, dark moments of doubt about the choices I’d made. Thankfully, I came out the other side a better, more learned, more experienced person who could often be heard remarking how living in the UK for two years was one of the best things I’d ever done.
On my second move to the UK, which entered its one-month anniversary this past Sunday (hence the reflective tone of this post), I expected things to be very different. I was at a different stage of m…