How do you leave a place that has been so integral to who you are as a women, as a wife, as a friend, as a contributing member of society? The simple answer is, you don’t. Much like your first love, it’s hard to forget the place that seeped into your heart and carved out a niche in your mind.
For me, that’s London.
As we left Paddington Station on the day of our arrival this past late-November, we made our way towards my place of solace, Hyde Park. I found myself overcome with a wide-range of emotions. I was back. I was home. So much had changed. So much has stayed the same.
During our time exploring the nooks and crannies of my old stomping grounds, I quickly fell back into the London pace of things: hopping on and off the tube, standing on the right, walking on the left, looking to the right before crossing a road, grabbing a proper ale and queueing like a pro.
I breathed in diversity. I reveled in the arts. I soaked in the history. I was surrounded by multiple languages.
I spent time meeting up with friends who were impactful during integral times in my life.
I was home.
It has been over a decade since I lived in London interning at a human rights organization. At 22, I was a charismatic, ambitious, go-getter with hopes of traveling and making a meaningful impact in the world.
I’m still that 22-year-old. Just a bit older and sadly, more jaded.
It was hard to swallow the knot of regret that filled my throat as I remembered some dreams that have yet to come to fruition; thinking of the time that’s gone by as time lost. I got emotional walking down the streets in Brixton where I used to walk each day on my way to work. So much had changed, including me. But, even in those reflective moments, I still deeply recognized and more importantly, identified with those goals I still have.
I was in London with the love of my life enjoying watching him fall in love with the city I used to call home. It’s something that’s hard to describe, seeing your forever pal take a genuine interest in something you keep close to your heart.
On our last night in London, we sat by the Thames talking about our dreams, our future. Sharing the realities of our current long-distance marriage, the hardships of his medical residency and where we hoped those sacrifices would take us in 5 years. As the glow of the outside heater cast a yellow light on the hubster’s face, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky. To share this vulnerable moment with him, to have his partnership by my side.
I may not physically be that 22-year-old anymore, but I was quickly put on notice that the same kind-hearted, compassionate, curious, creative, hard-working gal still resides in there. She may have diverted from the path for a bit, but those dreams and desires still hold true.
Now is the time to take a leap of faith in the same spirit a 22-year-old did when moving to a foreign country. Why not do it and see where it takes me? The greatest stories and life lessons of my existence have begun that way.
London was just what I needed to remind me what’s important. To remind me of what fulfills me. To remind me of the values I still posses. To remind me…of me.
From the bottom of this old(er) gal’s heart, thank you, London. You were, and forever will be, just what I needed.