Friday, November 25, 2011

Diary of an Expat: An Affair with London

I decided to give it up. I've spent the past few weeks whining to everyone I could about how much I miss New York. At one point, I even said to Joe [my husband] that I loved New York like a person (which, technically, is still true). But I decided when feeling especially bad for myself that it would be a pretty miserable couple of years if I just kept thinking about what I didn't have. I decided this while I was jogging, which is when I make a lot of crucial decisions (and have conversations with people in my head that will never take place, and dream about lives I'll never live, etc.). I continued my jog with a renewed sense of purpose - trying to absorb everything around me. I smelled the fall air, which is something I've somehow gone almost the entire fall without noticing. I organised my new apartment (which I just moved into this past week) and remembered how good it felt to have familiar things around, even if I was putting them away in brand new places. I went out shopping and there were Christmas carollers in the store - seriously, in eveningwear just singing out loud for everyone on the escalators to hear. Where else do you find something like that other than London? (I realize it can probably be found in many places, but that's not the point.)
Logo designed by Milton Glaser, who designed one of my other favorite logos for the Brooklyn Brewery

Thinking about my feelings for New York can't help but remind me of the feelings we have for other things that we have to leave in our past. There are times in your life - places you've lived, people you've dated, friendships you've had - that don't always last forever. And they don't always go out of your life in the way that you might have wanted them to. It's easy to look back and think about everything that might have been. When I think back on certain moments in my past, I get a small feeling of emptiness right in my chest. I realize that it's all psychological, because feelings don't come from your actual heart, but I feel it none-the-less; I've felt it for as long as I can remember. However, I think that feeling of emptiness can help you make room for something new. Nothing lasts forever, as much as we'd like to think it does, but it doesn't mean that what comes along to replace it won't be just as good (or even better, if we're lucky). Even love that two people feel for each other, which may seem to be able to last an eternity, is constantly changing. There are new obstacles, new opportunities. I suppose that's what makes life exciting.

I find myself, when I'm making new friends (as you generally do when you move to a new place), trying to introduce them to all of the people I've ever been. Maybe it's a way for me to keep that little part of me that feels empty a bit fuller. Maybe it's just that I'm scared that when people meet the person that I am now, that they won't like me. I know I've made friends in the past, so if I introduce people to my past self, then they'll be sure to like me, right? It seems so obvious now that I'm writing it down that the me from my past is what makes me the person that I am now. So if I've made friends in the past, and since then I've only had more experiences that make me know myself even better, it should be even easier now. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way though. I suppose the best thing to keep in mind is that every place I've ever moved from has had one thing in common - I've always left some really great friends behind, and they've always stayed a part of my life.

So as I leave my old friend, New York, and try to forge a relationship with my new friend, London, I hope I can keep all of this in mind. Like my dad always said "make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." It can be lonely in a new place, but the place is only new for so long, and before you know it, there are more places to be than you have time for. And while New York is not part of my current life, it is a wonderful part of my past and undoubtedly a part of my future. Plus, when the street you move to looks like this, you can't help but feel like you've brought a piece of New York with you.

A view of the Portobello Road market from wikipedia. Can you believe I live here?!

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