I am writing this on board an airplane. Ten-thousand
miles below me, the green fields of the United Kingdom recede into the distance, swallowed up by the sea.
I am leaving London, my home.
Ten years earlier, I was on an airplane going in the opposite direction, but the circumstances were similar. Then, like now, I was leaving my home and my parents to spread my wings and see where they would carry me. Yes, I mean what I write. I feel that London has become not just a home but a parent too.
Yes, I know the definition of ‘parent’, and as far as I know, London has had very little influence on my genes. (Then again, if a secret London-based organization had the technology to alter the genetic code in people then they would probably have the technology to erase memories too. Just saying…) Genetics aside, the primary responsibility of a parent is to raise their children and offer them the support and opportunities required to realize their potential, and in this London has been a phenomenal parent.
It was in London that I went to university and learnt a trade. It was here I got my first job and began my career. The city encouraged me to make the most of my time and filled it with hobbies like storytelling, role-playing, pervasive gaming and tango. London revealed to me new sides to both love and sex. Yes, every step of the way, London was there to challenge and inspire me. I arrived a boy and leave a man.
The last month has been very stressful. I am absolutely exhausted after spending all my time ‘ending’ things. I had not anticipated just how emotionally draining that is. I’ve felt like I’ve been sleepwalking, totally numb to the world around me.
Seriously, don’t underestimate how tiring it is to leave your job, home and country. Mentally, you have to keep tabs on a hundred things, and your mind is also working overtime looking out for important tasks that you might have forgotten. (Did I forget to cancel the milk?) Meanwhile, your emotions are roiling inside you, but you have no time to deal with them, so they get pushed down, which is also tiring. All of this then starts to affect you physically, screwing up your sleep and making you even more tired.
Well-meaning individuals would ask, “Are you excited about your upcoming travel?” to which the only honest answer was, “No.” How could I be when the only things I had time to deal with was bank accounts that needed closing, boxes that needed packing, mail that needed forwarding. Instead of thinking ahead to what will come, I’ve simply put my head down and got on with the tiring work of decommissioning my old life.
Exhaustion didn’t just suspend my enthusiasm but also my melancholy. I fully expected to feel sad about leaving London. After all, you don’t just walk away from your home of ten years without feeling something, right?
Until this morning, that had been the case. I had just been too tired to feel anything. But with my to-do list empty, there were no more things to distract my mind, and finally the tears came. I could afford to give in to my physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. I was not sad, not much anyway. I was melancholic. Still am.
What I will miss the most from London are my friends. Strangely, I’ve never felt so close to them as I do now. It is not just that we’ve organized a cornucopia of good-bye events to make sure we see each other while there is still time. (Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, pub-crawls, dim sums, give-away parties, chill-outs, coffees, club nights, tête-à-têtes and even a massage!) This last time together was different. We spoke frankly about our friendship and what we mean to each other.
Perhaps the best way to really get to know your friends is to leave.
The safety-belt sign just switched on, and we are ready to land. Unlike this calm flight, the last few months have been turbulent for me, mostly due to the amount of work and energy required to move home and country.
When I step of this plane, I will continue my journey back to Ljungby, my – first – home.
Many have been surprised and a bit disappointed that my first destination is Sweden and my old home. It seems to go against the adventurous reasons I had for leaving London in the first place. I will dedicate a full post to my rationale for making this my first stop, but it has to do with the aforementioned exhaustion and the importance to avoid a fate of picking up fragments of your own mind of the floor of a Victorian mental asylum.