A man named Harrison once believed I was in love with him, but what he never understood was he is the one person who reminded me of my love for London––he was the strongest tether to the feeling I still struggle to describe even today.
My love never belonged to Harrison; hopefully, he knows that by now as any kind of romantic feelings towards each other have washed away with time. He was a man that I met through a dating app. We must have matched around the 27th of September, roughly eight days into my study abroad trip.
To this day, I still don’t understand how we matched. He lived in Portsmouth, and I lived in London, around 80 miles of rolling hills stood between us, but somehow he slipped into my 5-mile parameter and caught my attention.
Now, imagine spending nearly three-months of your study abroad time consistently talking to one man as you learn to love yourself—like really fall into the person you‘ve dreamt of being. We never met in person, but towards the end of my time in England, I knew I should goodbye. Before my flight took off in December, I had a few more texts left on my burner phone, so I drafted him a message and said my final farewell. His reply sent me into tears.
“Fu** me that went fast! I will definitely be keeping in touch and it’s nice to know you thought of me before you go back. Have a safe flight home and have a good Christmas IF I don’t speak to you before xx”
You are right Harrison, those three months did go by too fast. Saying goodbye to him, meant I finally was saying goodbye to London, and that was never something I could draft in a 160 character text message.
I sat at Heathrow airport, two hours before my flight, bawling into my chest as I sat on the leather seats and I stared down the departure board waiting for my gate to appear on the board. I wiped away tears on my emerald peacoat and shifted my legs as feelings of anxiety and nervousness overcame me.
I had spent the Uber ride to the airport sucking down tears, as I was sharing it with a roommate of mine I barely got to know over our three-month stint living abroad. At six o’clock in the morning, it was hard to know how much my anxiety and emotional state was due to sleep deprivation versus pure sadness, but I came to know just how depressing leaving London would be.
Now that I am older, and four years removed from my time in London, I now know I don’t need to hang on a physical being to feel the pull England has on me since the beginning. There was happiness hidden in every Sunday roast, pint of cider, “mind the gap” painted pavement, and brightly-colored townhomes.
Before London, my past seemed to mimick feelings similar to asphyxiation. I felt like I struggled for air under the pressure of not feeling whole––not feeling like myself. I felt out of place for so much of my young years that it was hard to feel like I wasn’t drowning in a skin that wasn’t mine. London allowed me to exhale then inhale with new beginnings for the first time.
Much like the days of my stay fell to the past, the green leaves on the trees in Notting Hill slowly faded into the colors amber, orange, and scarlet until they fell gracefully and collected at the bottom of the tree trunks. They painted the pavement with colors under the dazzling street lights, and every day I returned to my flat, I was entranced. I did not mind that this love was solely a one-way street. I could not overlook the happiness loving London brought me, thus teaching me how to love myself.
I have only returned to London once since leaving that faithful day in December; that trip was three months later in March. That’s right, I lasted 13 weeks before getting on yet another transatlantic flight back to London. I was only there for a week, but that was enough to remind me that the city wasn’t going anywhere, and my love would continue to ignite in my chest like an ember refusing to submit itself to the ash surrounding it.
So, instead of saying goodbye in March, I knew that I will always feel the love I have for the city. The coordinates from the photo above hang around my neck with the words “Bloom & Inspire” engraved into the gold. For me, that spot in Regent’s Park, in London, was my time to shed everything that felt wrong hanging off my body and rebloom into the dreams that have always inspired me. This blog would have never exsitied had it not been for London, so I keep the city with me in my heart and feel the warmth of my time there until I visit there again.
There are very few cities that I have had such a tremendous effect on my life, like London, but I am looking forward to talking more about the growth I experienced in the town, no matter how short or long my experience there may have been. At times I can feel brokenhearted, as I leave so much of myself behind when I move on to another chapter. But, I am forever indebted to these cities and I wonder will ever be my home once more.