It’s a strange feeling to be so close to the very thing I’ve wanted for so long; to be on the verge of doing something that used to feel virtually impossible. I can’t believe that in 15 weeks’ time we’ll be out there travelling the world after years of dreaming, saving up our money and obsessively planning our travel adventure. I should be jumping-for-joy ecstatic, singing-from-the-rooftops excited – and don’t get me wrong, I am – but why do I also feel so incredibly sad?
A few weeks ago I was sat on the tube, making my way home after a long day at work followed by drinks with friends. I was tired, I was a bit tipsy but I was happy – so why were tears welling up in my eyes? Why, suddenly, did sitting on a grotty tube train, watching the other passengers pretend not to watch each other in the way that only Londoners can do, make me feel so unbearably sad? As I got on the overground train home from London Bridge with all the other city people still in their work clothes, the students and families and groups of teenagers, I watched the lights of the city – my city – recede through the window and it hit me:
I am Homesick.
But how can I be homesick for a place I haven’t even left yet?
Leaving London and Homesickness
I make no secret about it, I love London. I love its markets and monuments, the parks and the pubs, the Thames and the famous buildings; the festivals and free entertainment – I can’t imagine finding another city I love as much as this one. A place is a place though, right? It’s just bricks and mortar, a random collection of people and streets and buildings; so I guess it’s the life you build in that place and the memories you create there that make it special, that make it truly yours.
So perhaps I’m really feeling homesick for the life I’m leaving behind. Andrew and I have spent three years living in London; we’ve built a life here and made friends, we’ve found our favourite places and established our own little routines. We’ve attended film festivals and protests, carnivals, music gigs and theatre shows here. We’ve shared drinks and dinners with friends, shown our families around the city and we’ve moved from flat to flat.
It’s in London that I saw my favourite band perform five nights in a row, that I co-wrote and self published a book of short stories to raise money for the Mayhew Animal home; that we protested against the Pope’s visit to Britain; that Andrew got knocked off his bike and the place where we became zombies for the night. London is where I got my first paid writing job and met some of my favourite people. It’s where Andrew began his teaching career and where we finally filled a flat full of our own furniture – and even got infested by bed bugs.
Dealing with Homesickness
Leaving London will be hard. I know that even if we return, years from now, it won’t be the same place. Perhaps new buildings will have been built and old ones destroyed. The people we knew may have moved on and the places we loved will have changed – we won’t ever be able to step back into the life we have here, now. But that’s true of every stage of life and I have faith that the journey we’re setting out on and the life that we’re hoping to build when we travel will be even more amazing than the one we have here. There’ll be no more wasting time inside an office every day, staring at a screen for hours on end and wishing away the minutes when we’re finally on the road. I don’t know yet how I’ll feel when we’re finally out there travelling; who knows, perhaps I won’t miss home at all? All I know is that staying isn’t an option, our yearning to see the world is just too strong to ignore.