Several months ago, before I had a plane ticket booked or even a real plan to do so, Cindy and I were talking about London. I don't really remember why, but she said, "London speaks your language on so many levels." I never forgot that.
When I moved to LA I didn't know what to do with myself. I had graduated college only 2 months prior and had never experienced life outside of Western NY. I was NOT prepared to be thrown into an adult lifestyle without my family and friends for backup. Even once I figured all of that out, it still wasn't right. I love Los Angeles with all my heart, but even now, I don't think it's where I'm meant to be. I think about my life before I moved here: I felt so content, even in my tiny town in Western New York that, now that I know myself as well as I do, isn't enough for me. I think I'm the type of person that can craft a good quality of life for myself no matter where I am, and that is certainly a helpful trait to possess. But all of these places I've been - all of these places that I have felt genuinely happy in - they still haven't been what I wanted. They've been spots on a map that life has pointed at, and so I've said, "OK, sure" and went along for the ride. I've learned to appreciate and love the different culture and lifestyle that is exhaled from each new place, but London is the first place I've been that has felt like home from the second I arrived.
I stepped out of the Hammersmith tube station last Sunday while switching from the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith & City, felt the first cold nighttime breeze brush across my face, and immediately felt so overwhelmed with happiness that I almost cried right on the sidewalk. I have worked so hard this year and have spent so much time stressing out, and the realization that all of my work finally brought me to this place was too much to handle. I'm more of a results/idea person than a process person, and this was the ultimate result.
I'm not really interested in writing about what I did; I'm more interested in the larger impact that it had. I wandered a lot and did a lot. You don't need a list and I don't really feel like making one anyway lol. I can show you with pictures, but I think the things worth writing and reading are rooted in emotion.
The night before I left I went back to Bumpkin in Notting Hill, a traditional British place that was just around the corner from the flat where I was staying. I went there on my first night and enjoyed it so much that I needed a repeat. I brought my sketchbook so I could illustrate a Thank You card for Marie, the (wonderful) woman that I stayed with, and curled up in a booth by the door. The waitress brought my food and wine, and mid-sketch I noticed that River Man by Nick Drake was playing and I thought I feel like I am in a restaurant that I created in my own brain. I felt that way so many times over the past week and a half; it's an entire city full of things that I love. And I found those things over and over and over again.
Traveling by myself was the best idea I've ever had. Everything was done at my own pace. If I wanted to do the same thing twice, I could. If I didn't feel like doing much of anything (like when I couldn't walk on day 4 because my foot hurt so badly for reasons unknown), I didn't have to. If I made plans with myself to see one part of the city, only to wake up that day feeling like I wanted to go somewhere else, I could. I know I always like to do things alone because I am such an introvert, and so stubborn at that, but I felt far more comfortable by myself than I would have felt with anyone else's company.
I did however meet up with Martin on Friday and we drank allllll day and then part of the night, before we gave in and went to sleep at like 10:30 hahaha. He felt like someone who has just always been there. It's so rare for me to feel that comfortable with someone upon first meeting. We've followed each others' blogs and written each other letters and all that, but it's not the same as being able to sit across from him and hear him laugh, and it's definitely not the same as being with him at 8pm, after 8 hours of drinking, trying to get home on the tube with a ton of delays and closures. I'm so happy I got to spend a day with him. It won't be the last time.
I am no stranger to moving long distances and being in new places. I'm aware that living and visiting are different. But I am announcing it here, right now: I've given myself 5 years to move there, but I'm about 150% sure that I'll do it in less than 3. Anyone that really knows me knows how quickly I make things happen for myself when I really want them.