It is with the most bittersweet emotions that I write what I am about to write, that I lay down these words in permanence. London, I am leaving you.
My heart pangs at the thought, and yet, there it is. Spoken out loud, whispered out loud, catching in my throat, and yet; they have been formed and they are real and solid and truth. They are what is to be. And yet... How can I say goodbye to a city that has altered me in so many good and complicated ways, a city that has been a source of my joy and my sorrow, my belonging and my loneliness, my faith and my doubt?
You have taken me in. Embraced me, loved me, told me to grow up and then showed me how. You have put people on my path that have shown me what it means to be wealthy in kindness and love. You have shown me sunrises and sunsets, spreading out over your vastness. Crowded bus rides and even more crowded tube rides. How to stand in a queue, where to buy flowers when you need a small reminder that you are special, and that a good cup of coffee is worth seeking out. You have shown me beards and bikes and crowded parks, the grand home of the Queen and the eclectic shopping centre of Elephant & Castle. The coloured rows of Notting Hill and the graffiti covered walls of Shoreditch. Your markets and streets and shops have taught me about colour, taste and smell. You have shown me the importance of community, perseverance, gratitude, joy, rest and adventure.
So why am I leaving you then? Why am I closing the door to what we have? Because it is, quite simply, time. I can't explain it in any other way, London, except that it is time. And though the idea of not walking your streets and crossing your bridges and climbing your steps and taking you in everywhere I go is achingly difficult, I know it is right because I have peace. And this peace will carry me through the next day, the next month, and the one after that, until I board that plane home to Canada in October.
Can I return to an old existence after a new has been formed? How can I leave what I have started, built, established here and trade it all in for the unknown? It is as if I have been spending the last two years building a house; my dream house. A home that has been laboured over, built brick by brick, with sweat, tears and courage. But this house that I have so lovingly, so carefully built will now be left empty. It will sit in its field and never become anything more; it will be abandoned. But... maybe the building of it was enough, maybe that alone provides the meaning. Maybe it doesn't matter that no one will live in it now, that it will sit empty. Maybe it just matters that it was built. Maybe the very existence of the house is my story.
And so London, let these words that I have written be a permanent remembrance of what you have meant to me. This time that I have spent loving and learning and growing with you; it was everything to me, it is everything. I speak in overflowing gratitude and I end this letter to you with simply this:
Guest post written by my beautiful, and dear friend Jennifer Elizabeth.