Recently I read an amazing article in the Huffington Post by Ashleigh Davis about how it feels to leave London. Whilst reading her words I felt as though she had written the article for me specifically. I could completely relate to her devastation with the fact that her Visa had expired and she had to give up her London life to return back to Australia.
As it is almost a year to the day since I became a non-resident to the U.K I wanted to give my perspective on leaving London behind. I know I have touched on this before, however the wounds were then fresh. After a year I have a better head on my shoulders to reflect on the trauma of being ejected from the city I grew to love so much.
When it came time to head to the airport and literally leave London I didn’t really feel anything at all. I had a month of travel ahead of me and I knew the people I would be missing the most would all still be dotted around various parts of Europe while I was travelling. This really lightened the blow as it was the people that surrounded me who I knew I would miss the most. As the month went one and I said farewell to more and more friends I began to realise just how difficult it may actually be to be apart from not only the people I had grown close to but also the place.
After a month of travelling I began the awful task of starting all over again in Melbourne. Looking for a job, finding a house etc. This is when the impact of leaving London really sank in. The jetlag kept me awake all night and I would watch my Facebook feed fill up with my friends having after work drinks at Dalston Social or lying about at London fields with cheap cans of Red Stripe. I would slowly see new people entering into their lives and felt myself quickly becoming a fading memory to the city I used to call home.
So distraught I was that I even went and spoke to a few ‘professionals’ about my feelings towards leaving London. They suggested that I was going through the processes of grief – losing something you can never get back. I guess in a way they were right, but in hindsight they only identified my problem and gave no advice on how to fix it.
One year later I still truly do love London but rather than missing the people or the place, I miss the time I had in the city. I miss that period of my life with those people I used to see every day. I think about the time I sat in the alleyway on Millers Terrace by some dumpsters just to get the last rays of sun. I think about the two hour night bus journeys from East to West and fighting every temptation to fall asleep. I think about sharing my single bed in a cupboard and actually being comfortable. I think about the Tuesday evenings on Primrose Hill in summer and always feeling like I was going to piss myself on the journey back home on the Overground.
I think about my time in London every day but finally have come to terms with the fact that that part of my life is over. Although it is not as exciting, I love Melbourne. I have so many great friends here and life is a hell of a lot easier.
Finally, Ashleigh included this quote, which like her I think is rather accurate:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”