As discussed a few entries previously, I have a thing about anniversaries. Last week it was a year since I left London. Yesterday was 6 months since I arrived back in Sydney. Two rather significant events in the space of a week… my over-developed sense of nostalgia is in overdrive.
When I first arrived in London, I really didn’t like it. I missed home, family, my boyfriend at the time, warmth, seafood, smiles… I just wasn’t sure I made the right decision in going to London, particularly when my father developed the need to have a quadruple heart by-pass, and I couldn’t get a job for months. It was a miserable time, and I spent much of it on the phone to friends and boyfriend and family, half-living my life in Sydney.
I had friends in London, and I made acquaintances fairly quickly, and life was very pleasant after a while, but I just didn’t feel settled. Things changed 6 months on. I met Debbie in a club. Sean met Damien, and the two of them met me. I met Philippa. Life suddenly became spectacular. Suddenly the fact that I didn’t love my job didn’t matter. I stopped worrying about my ambitions and life plan and what I wasn’t achieving. And I had a brilliant time. I had the time of my life. My ‘London experience’ became everything my wildly optimistic dreams hoped it would be. We partied and laughed and explored and cried and had dramas and danced and danced and danced. And then something unexpected happened. In the midst of falling in love with my friends, I fell in utter love with London.
That dirty grimy cold super-fast expensive city, became glamorous and exciting and full of promise and varied and beautiful. And you know what, London loved me. It was my home, and although it had its faults, it was my home.
In March of 2002, 9 months after arriving in London, I went to Sydney for a friends wedding. It was a symbolic return (me and my bloody symbolism…) as it was originally going to be my permanent return: I had come to London only expecting to stay for 9 months. But London had sunk her laced claws into me, and I willingly submitted. I had decided to stay a little longer in London, and so return home had became just a trip to Sydney.
And I had a brilliant time. I loved seeing my friends and family, visiting my old haunts, eating as much seafood and fresh thai as I could… I started to waver… maybe I should return to Sydney, why was I in London so far from it all?
But by the end of that visit, I had come to a realisation. I loved Sydney. It held so much for me. But those things wouldn’t change. Right now, my destiny and joy lay in London, and so I would return. And I would stop living with my feet in both countries, and firmly and deliberately place both my feet in London, and give it all I had, in the hope it would in return give me all it had.
So the next four years ensued. And there were times I wanted to wring London’s neck, when I would gladly have left in a huff, never to return. But then I would leap onto the back of a red double-decker Routemaster, good ol’ route 38, and hold on for my dear life, whilst I gazed in never abating wonder at the glorious architecture, and stately homes, the myriad streets and shops and bars and museums that I would never fully finish exploring. And I would smile, and shiver slightly with the thrilling knowledge that I was part of the worlds most exciting city, that I knew her, and loved her despite her faults, or perhaps because of them.
Anyway, the point of this arduous stroll through nostalgia-ville, is that I had been hoping that my return to Sydney would have a similar trajectory: that I would return, feel unsettled for 6 months, and then POW! things would change. Not sure what I was expecting, but as the 6 month mark was yesterday, I keep waiting for that life-altering moment when I feel that same thrill of belonging and of hope.
Well, the hope at least I do feel. The promise of Spring can make hope blossom out of anything, and this will be my first Spring in Sydney in 5 years. And there are enough new and exciting things happening to make me feel hopeful and excited about the near future. So, perhaps it’s just a matter of time, before the sense of belonging in Sydney returns.