During my college graduation (over a year ago now WHAT) my class's chosen commencement speaker said something that really struck a chord with me. I don't know if she was quoting someone else or what, but she told us all that "places don't belong to us, but we belong to places."
There are some people out there who never really find a place where they belong. I am so lucky to have found and thus belong to two.
But that makes it that much harder when one of those places is an ocean away from the other, and the time between my visits there can be measured not in weeks, or even months, but have to be in years.
A week ago today I was taking a plane into London Heathrow airport for what could only be a long weekend in England. My first time back since I had studied there two years ago. And you guys, it was wonderful.
There are two things about London that make me love it so much.
One is that it's just a great city. I've been there three times now, one of those times I just lived there for half a year, and I still have barely scratched the surface when it comes to doing everything the city has to offer. It's the only place I've ever been outside of New York where I genuinely feel like I could never get bored no longer how long I live there no matter what time of day it is. There's always something going on, and it's so stimulating and exciting and inspiring.
The other thing that I love about it, though, is more personal. When I lived and studied in London, I only got to spend about half a year there. Compared to living anywhere else, like my home uni, it was barely any time at all. But I still connected with so many people there so strongly. It's a powerful thing to realize that, beyond contented, I was really, fully happy there. Friends I made there are still people I am very close to. Even though I hadn't been back in two years, I was there and just felt such unconditional love. Even from people with whom I'm not as close anymore, just having the memories of when we were was wonderful. I'm starting to veer into personal, sentimental, gushy territory that won't necessarily mean anything to anyone else, so I'll stop on this thread for now, but realizing that happiness was so important to realizing what matters to me as a human.
Traveling and seeing new things and loving new places is wonderful. But that also makes it hurt that much more when you can't be there. Because the flip side of falling in love with new places and leaving some of your heart there (cheesy, pretentious phrases everywhere!) is that you're not going to get it back. Or it'll be very rare, and very difficult. London is a place to which I belong, but it's also a few thousand miles and several hundred dollars away. There's a part of me always missing because I'm not there, but it also never quite feels right to consider not living in New York. And there really is no solution to that.
I can't say I'm entirely sure what kind of point I'm driving to in this blog post. Full disclosure: I'm still jetlagged, so I'm not totally with it. But I wanted to get some of my thoughts out there anyway, because I only just returned from London, and I already want to go back. Leaving London is one of the hardest things I do. I literally well up every time I'm at the departures gate at Heathrow. And if I wasn't coming home to New York, I really don't think I could do it.
I'll do a proper, travel writer-y post about my trip abroad in a few days when I can do it justice. So look forward to that! It'll have pictures and funny anecdotes and recommendations for things to do and places to eat in London! And... also Reykjavik! Fun fact: I had a stopover in Iceland both to and from England, and it was amazing. There will be all kinds of things about that.
But in the meantime, I'm still nursing the wound that comes from not being in the UK right now. Also, napping. Because damn, the jetlag struggle is real.