I lived in London from December 2007 to May 2009. It was an amazing experience: I travelled. I had my first ‘real’ job and I quickly built a reputation for being very good at it. I made close friends and we got drunk often. I fell in love, and I had my heart broken.
The reason I left was because I was exhausted – physically from working night-shift every other week; and emotionally from my first big breakup.
But after a couple of months back in Australia, I realised that I’d left before I was ready. I was restless – my soul hungered for adventure – I wanted to see things I’d never seen, to be swept away in a heady rush of adrenaline, to taste life itself.
Part of my struggle with Paris has been that I’ve been looking for another London. Interestingly, the same thing happened in my first months in London – I was searching for the thrill of a three month backpacking trip that I’d taken the year before. London didn’t end up being like that – it was different, and an incredible experience in its own right.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that Paris won’t be like London. I’m not going to find a share-house of expats with whom I can get drunk in the living room. But instead I find myself excited about to room I’m moving to next week in chic Neuilly-sur-Seine. I’m excited about writing being an important part of my life again – I have people I’ve never met reading my words, which motivates me to write more. I also really like my job – so maybe it’s okay to put my career on hold for a couple of years while I travel and teach.
And I’m excited about discovering more of Europe. I know I won’t have as much time to travel as I had in London, but Europe is dense and you can see a lot in a weekend. And I plan to put my month of holiday leave to good use.
I’m sure I’ll continue to swing up and down over the coming months – that’s Paris. London is steady, like an old friend. Paris is like a tempestuous lover, which means that sometime I’ll be buoyant with love for the city, and other times I’ll be bogged down by frustration and anxiety. But it’s all an experience – and isn’t that why I’m here?
Ever since I left London, it has felt like I left a piece of me behind. Now I think it’s time to move on.
London Still – The Waifs