On the train North, and I just lost sight of Ally Pally – the last significant London landmark on this route out of the city.
I’ve left London much as I arrived in it 7.5 years ago: inching along by myself under the weight of bags filled with every belonging I have that isn’t 100+ miles away; splashing out on a cab even though I shouldn’t, just to make the trip across the city easier.
I spent the last night in our London flat exactly the way I spent the first night, 6 years ago: in a sleeping bag and blanket, snuggled up to the radiator, with my guitar and a few other things scattered round me in an otherwise completely empty room.
And, yep, here’s the same churning in my belly that’s equal parts excitement and nerves. In a few hours, life up North starts for real, and in a few days my new job starts for real, and the anticipation is making me queasy.
It’s a pleasing symmetry for sure.
All the emotional parts of leaving really happened last week, though, on the last day of my old job when the goodbyes were happening. After that it was all chaos and packing and getting the dogs out of the way by taking them up to stay with the in-laws for a few days. It’s not easy to be sad about leaving when you’re trying to figure out whether or not you really have managed to pack the only decent screwdriver in one of the boxes already in the truck (yes).
It’s been a heady seven years, though. Good and bad; incredibly high highs and some tremendously low lows, and all the changes that come with them. London, I love you and I hate you and isn’t it a good thing absence makes the heart grow fonder? I’m leaving slightly wiser (but only slightly), slightly greyer (quite a lot actually), lined and scarred and tattooed, and a better person for having lived here – but it’s definitely time to go.
I hope that everyone I’m going to miss knows that I’ll miss them. Love you, my London folks. Thank you for pulling me into your madcap schemes and for taking part in mine, and for all the things in between. I will think of you often and will never forget: don’t stop at the end of an escalator, always stand on the right and, for God’s sake, have your Oyster card ready.