I moved a couple of months ago, so it’s not like I’ve been gone a long time, and as my friend explained, the main changes since I left are that Cash Converters has moved and there’s now a Pizza Express – exciting times. It’s probably good this happened post-move as my love for dough balls (and therefore weight) would have reached a new
high low. I also noticed some new cladding on the outside of the shopping centre, which improved the look rather. I’ve wondered how I would feel about moving, and what I’d feel about going back to the place from whence I came.
I never watched Cheers but I can vividly recall that moment in Friends where Joey just wishes he was there, home, ‘Where everybody knows your name…friends are always glad you came…‘. He felt miles away from the place where he was known, despite being with some of those same people.
Home: the places where I wander in and get a coke out of the fridge. Where my slippers are on the rack, so I just swap them for my shoes. Where I let myself in the door and announce my arrival only after I’ve taken off my coat and sorted out my hair.
I miss these things. So far London seems more based around central locations, coffee shops and restaurants, cafes and bars rather than people’s houses. This is perhaps because people can easily live an hour’s travelling apart despite being in the same city, so I’ve especially appreciated invitations to people’s homes, and being able to open mine to friends.
Friends are another major change. Not to say they’re not lovely in both locations – they are. I’ve begun getting to know people better and forming new friendships which is exciting. But a fundamental to old friendships is how well they know you. My ‘old’ friends know lots of the things that have happened to me. They were with me in the joy of my marriage, the challenges of separation and divorce, the unknown of leaving my job and the foray into career change. Because of this they know a lot about my character, my habits, who I am. They have a way of challenging me about the things when I need a mirror holding up to myself, and encouraging me with truths about who I am when I’m feeling low.
Of course, I’m still in touch with them. But there’s something about seeing these people every day that is comforting. Gradually I’m sure I’ll get to know my new friends better, and they me. I imagine my character will evolve and change and they will be more familiar with that than those I don’t see everyday. Yet the best thing about best friends is that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been apart, you just take right back up where you left off, so in my case being fine with hanging out in pyjamas and helping yourself to their food and drink. I’m looking forward to finding these friends here in the city too, and I think I already know a few people who’d be up for watching films in pyjamas while eating a mountain of crisps and dip. Making new friends is exciting, and scary. It’s easy to feel anonymous in London, so my advice would be to get stuck in quickly, that’s definitely helping.
Have I missed the actual place? No, not really. I knew the town well, but I’m gradually familiarising myself with my surroundings here. I quickly realised my Costa trips have been forever slightly spoilt by too many (yes already) trips to independent coffee houses. Leaving the home I’d lived in for five years gave only a slight tug on the heartstrings, in an ‘end of an era’ sort of way. I love my new house more, compounded by the fact it’s rented so I’m not responsible for the cost of any necessary repair. It is also has a roll-top bath, which is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted.
It’s been good for me to physically move house. I’ve seriously decluttered and I’m still able to be friends with all those same wonderful people. But it’s a new, and exciting, phase of life; new friends, opportunities and explorations.
My favourite things so far about living in London:
- The tidal Thames. I’ve always wanted to live near the seaside, so I love that the Thames has tides. Some mornings there are ‘beaches’ alongside the bridge I walk across on my commute. Some mornings the tide’s so high it seems it could burst it’s bank if there was heavy rainfall. The lapping of the rising or lowering tide are enough to make you think you’re near the sea (until you hear a siren/the beeping/several trains).
- Big Ben. I love hearing Big Ben. Whenever I hear it, it reminds me I’m right in the heart of London, and I love when I unexpectedly tune in and get reminded where I am, or that I’m later than I’m meant to be for work.
- The busy-ness of the city. There’s always something happening, there’s places to eat, get coffee, and exciting things to do. It’s highly likely my entire non-bill related earnings are going to be spent on trips to the theatre and coffee…
- It doesn’t take me two hours to get home. I mean, it can still take a surprisingly long time to get places, but when I was poorly I didn’t miss that commute in the slightest. There’s a lot to be said for a quicker trip home when you’re ill!