It’s been so long since I’ve been here I can almost smell the dust, see the cobwebs forming in the corners of the screen.
Despite my absence this space has been on my mind. A dull ache sitting at the base of my skull, travelling down my spine and then moving into my belly where it sat like a stone. I could feel its weight as I moved. Constantly reminding me that this space sat waiting for me, empty, devoid of words. Words I’d moved to London to write.
I’ve been confused of late. About my place in the world. About what I want and how I can go about getting it. Confused about how something I always thought I wanted could become everything I don’t.
That confusion kept me from this space. Kept me from writing the words I so desperately wanted to. London was supposed to be the answer, was supposed to give me what I craved, or thought I craved. And while London has given me much much more than I can ever give back - it has given me distance from what I needed distance from, it has given me sharp focus where before was only fuzziness, it has provided much needed perspective, it has allowed me to find answers to questions I didn't even know needed asking and to scratch beneath the surface of the person I thought I was, the person I saw in the mirror - it has also muddied the waters in other ways that I could never have anticipated.
- - -
For the past five months I’ve been writing almost daily in a journal. I’ve been transcribing thoughts as they formed in my mind, scrawling memories and moments and trying to write myself out of the sadness and fear and the kind of thinking that feels like a heavy weight on my chest. Some days it works, others it does not.
I had envisioned what these months would be like, what being here would be like. I had told myself it would be hard, there would be moments when I questioned myself, my sanity, my ability to push through the shitty to find the gold. I just hadn’t anticipated how much of the shitty there would be.
My reality is nothing like my dreams. This is not unusual. This is life. But here it feels so much more than just life. This city has me questioning everything I thought I knew about myself and it feels like a reality I’m not sure how to traverse.
But amongst the angst and the heightened emotional state of being, there are moments, usually the late evening or early morning when I find myself walking along somewhat empty streets, when I feel like London is filling me up, forcing my ribs out and making my spine straighten and I feel the smile like it's coming from deep within my belly. I feel free and independent and anonymous, alone but not lonely. In these moments the city lets me in, lets me see what there is to see here, lets me feel what there is to feel. These moments are pure happiness, they are joy, they are perfect, they are rare.
- - - -
I wrote the words above last year, in the days before I boarded a plane home. Months ago now, many days and nights have passed since then. It’s much dustier here now. There are more cobwebs. But the space has still been on my mind. Especially as the new year approached and rolled over. What is it about a new year that forces reflection?
This year will be an important one for me. And while there is still confusion (I’ve come to the realisation that confusion is not necessarily a bad thing and having it along as a companion, albeit a smaller one than it used to be, is something I’m ok with) there is now greater knowledge and understanding, there is now acceptance and a level of self-respect that before had not been. I feel more confident in traversing my reality now, in grasping what is real, what is important and what is worth my time.
I owe much of this to London, to the emotional trauma I experienced while there, to the insight that being there bought, that leaving there allowed. To the questions it posed, to the answers it demanded.
I feel as if these words have blown out the dust, have knocked down the cobwebs. Maybe it’s not shiny around here (really, when has it ever been?) but I’m ok with that.