I once wrote about the 9 things I learned while living in London. While those 9 things were very significant at that very moment, I was still very fresh to the city.
Another year and a half has passed and after gathering my entire life into two suitcases and moving back across the Atlantic, I can’t help but think about what it is I’ve learned after leaving London.
It truly is a magical place
The magic of London exists in your ability to love it as ferociously as you hate it. One day, the crowds, the pace and the entire show that is London, can make you want to hide in your bed forever more. The next day, you walk through the streets, feeling as though you’re living in your own television show where your dreams are all magically coming true. The same things that drove you mad has become the beautiful backdrop to the romanticized story that is your life.
Everyone is just as lost as you are
At home, most of my friends and acquaintances have great careers, a home, a spouse or at least a long-term significant other and sometimes, even babies. In London, everyone has a job. That’s it. There’s no pressure to get married, buy a house and begin the ‘white picket-fence’ fantasy. No one stares at you in awe when you reveal to them that you’re in your late 20s, you’re single and you own absolutely nothing.
Everyone is broke
This works well with #2. Everyone in London (save for the people you hear about, whom I clearly never met) regularly goes through the days, weeks, and even months, where, like a broken record, you repeat: “I’m broke right now. Can we do something cheap?” And everyone is okay with that.
The connections you make are real
I went through a time when it felt like there were two versions of me that existed. The ‘me’ that existed in London existed only in London. This was not a healthy way to live. I started to feel as though the relationships and connections I was creating in London were temporary and that whatever happened in London wasn’t real. It took some great friends to snap me back to reality and make me realize that the friendships I was building there were not fleeting. The love I felt as I started to prepare to move home was overwhelming and truly confirmed that this experience was life altering in so many wonderful ways. These people have seen me through many ups and downs, and will forever be my family.
Love is tricky in Ol’ Blighty
Once you’ve fallen in love in London, no matter how long or brief that love is, that person will forever be imprinted on some of the most famous landmarks in the world. It’s one thing to remember your first date at the local diner down the street. It’s a completely other thing to remember the time you looked into someone’s eyes in front of Big Ben and thought, “I fucking love this person.”
You’ll miss the little things
The same things that once drove you mad will now make you long for them. Why does no one finish their texts with an X? Does no one love me here? Where are my trousers and why has no one offered me a cuppa???
Transit is not as bad as you thought
Moving home means living a 20-minute drive, 75 minute bus ride, or a $45 cab ride from downtown. Maybe the tube wasn’t that bad. Perhaps those night busses were a great convenience. Also, nothing that matters is within walking distance from my house. Oh how I miss the stumbles home after a pint, or two.
You can’t be bored
There’s something for everyone in London. Whether your rich or poor, there’s some kind of event going on at any given moment for you to enjoy. You actually feel guilty on nights you want to stay in. And in retrospect, you should.
London is a break from expectations
Two years in London feels like a two-year break from the stress of reality. For two full years, I was able to be the purest form of myself with zero expectations from anyone else. The ties that bound me to my past self were gone. Those who met me, and more importantly, those who loved me, did so knowing exactly who I am at my core. That feels pretty huge.
So, back to reality I go. I am definitely not the same girl as the one who landed at Gatwick airport two years ago, but I am so much better for having done so.