I’ve been writing this entry here and there over the past month or two, reflecting on what the past year has meant to me. My mom asked me just this week why I love London as much as I do. I’ve discovered that there are no words meaningful enough to even begin to allow you to understand the past 365 days of my life. But I think that that is the test of a genuine love- when there are no words to describe why you feel the way you do. It’s just a feeling, an absolute certainty that where you are or who you’re with is exactly where you’re supposed to be. I’ve never been good with feelings, so I’ve done my best to TRY to explain what this experience has meant to me and I hope it will bring you a little closer to understanding.
The prospect of moving to London began as a simple thought, that with time, became reality. When I walked off the plane and through Heathrow Airport, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and that was the adventure- the unknown. I do not know how to escape this adventure, though. Part of me thinks I don’t have to, but the other part of me is saying that it is time to move on, to find the next big thing, because the world is too large to use up all of my adventure in one place. If I don’t get out now, I might not ever leave and I’ve got to keep going while I’ve got the time to be me and do my own thing.
One thing I’ve often discussed with friends here is that no matter what, I will never get over the fact that I will no longer be living in London. I will hear the word and feel disappointment, knowing that it is not a place where I still reside. But it will always be home. Because home is not where I am from, but the places where I leave a piece of myself behind. And London will forever hold a piece of me. I can share my journeys with you and you can live vicariously, but you will never fully understand what it meant to be here. What it meant to leave everything behind and start anew in unfamiliar territory.
I am famous for my inability to show emotions. However, as I sit here writing this, I can tell you that I am overcome by several emotions and I am absolutely heart broken about the end of this adventure. I’ll do my best to convey my emotions to you through words, because that’s the only way I know how.
Sadness: I don’t know how to live a life outside of London and I am incredibly sad knowing that I’ve now got to figure that out. Living in Delaware was the only thing I knew for 22 years, but while it was familiar, I knew that there was somewhere else I was meant to go and I’ve found that place. Fitting into London life proved to be completely easy. I am comfortable. I am home. I do not know how to find that somewhere else. I can confidently say that I know I will find it somewhere down the road, but doing so will not be easy. I am also saddened that you will never fully know what it is like to live this journey that I have lived for the past 365 days. However, this also makes me grateful.
Gratitude: Grateful that you will never know what this journey has been like, for this is an emotion that I can share only with myself. A feeling between a girl and the city she loves so dearly. An emotion that I will also share only with those who have been here with me. For they too know what it means to drop everything and run towards something great. I am grateful that my aunt took me on a European vacation in September of 2010- that fateful moment that brought me to London. The moment where the course of my life changed in ways I’d never imagine.
Grateful to my parents who agreed to allow me to follow the dreams they’ve always encouraged my brother and I to have, even though those dreams took me 3,000 miles from them. For having the faith to know that I’d still make them proud, regardless of where they’d find me on a map. For understanding that this was a move I had to make for myself and no one else. A move that allowed me to be completely selfish. We’ve had our differences throughout this process (and still do, to a point), but know that the appreciation I have for the support you’ve shown is insurmountable. That when I say thank you with an expressionless face, I’m actually saying thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart. I know that the arguments don’t end here, but I’m humbled that you’re fighting for the things that are best for me.
To my friends from home for allowing things to be the same when we reunited at home. For taking the time to Skype and e-mail. For understanding that while I have changed, I am still the Sarah they knew and loved before I left, and for realising that moving to London didn’t mean that I had moved on from them.
I am grateful for the friends I have made here in London. For knowing 100 percent what this experience feels like and for sharing those feelings with me and allowing me to do the same with you. For surpassing my expectations of what it means to be a friend and becoming a family.
Uncertainty: This time last year I knew that I was headed towards something new and I knew what that something was. However, although I know I’m headed for something new, I do not yet know what that something is and it’s a bit unnerving, I’ll admit. But, I’ll figure it out, because in life, there is no certainty, there is only adventure.
Excitement: Despite the uncertainty, it leads me to excitement. It is thrilling that I live a life that allows me to constantly be on the edge of my seat. One that gives me the opportunity to do whatever I please, when I please. I’ve left my life open so that I can really figure out what it is I want and then go for it, with nothing holding me back. And what a wonderful gift to have given myself.
Pride: I feel proud of this country that I am completely comfortable calling my second home. I’m proud to have been a part of Wimbledon, the oldest and most beloved tennis event in sporting history. I’m proud to have been a part of “the greatest show on Earth”- the Olympics. I’m proud that all eyes were on this beautiful nation for two weeks and I’m proud of the support that’s been shown for this country. Although the eleventh hour of gold-medal performances was the truest test of where my loyalties lie (can’t fully turn my back on America), I still feel a connection to the Union Jack when it’s raised for a member of Team GB. I can’t help but wipe a tear from my eye (strictly figuratively for me, of course) when we sing about our nation, but also when we sing about God saving the Queen. I’m proud that I can navigate these city streets like the back of my hand and that this city is inherently branded into me forever. (This time, it’s literal.)
I am leaving here with a Masters degree in Public Relations, but if you examine the big picture, that is the most unimportant thing I will depart with. I did not come here for that degree, but because that was my ticket in. Instead, I depart with experiences that leave me humbled by opportunity. I met George Clooney- a man I have admired for some time. I have seen, with my own eyes, the British royal family- a group with whom I have an unerring fascination and love. (And fear not- just because I’m not leaving as a Duchess does not mean I have given up the hope of scoring my wonderfully adorable, sometimes naked, wild-child Party Prince. So, until I do, I will be anxiously awaiting his safe return home from Afghanistan.) I’ve attended film premieres and travelled the globe on my own dollar. I’ve worked with a very important designer in a high-end fashion house. I’ve worked Wimbledon and the Olympics, rubbing elbows with some of the greatest athletes of this generation. I’ve created a life for myself. I’ve met friends from all over the world. These are the things I consider important- much more important than a piece of paper that says I’m qualified to work as a professional. Because when the job is over, these are the things and the people that will remain. These are the memories that cannot end.
I do not know what would have happened and where I would be at this point in my life if I had not taken a trip to Europe for the first time in 2010. Or if that trip hadn’t been to London. The beauty of it all though, is that I will never have to know. What I do know is that I am returning to you a new person. It may not be evident to you, but it is evident to me- I FEEL different, but in a good way and I think if you take the time to really look for it, you’ll see it as well.
I hope that you have enjoyed living vicariously through me. At the beginning of this journey I said my goal was to bring London home to you and I hope you feel that I have done that. I thank you for the support and the love. Your interest has touched me. The fact that you made this journey not only about me, but about you. I don’t know that anything else in life will compare to this year, but I will make it my goal to be sure that it does and I hope that you’ll be there for that as well. So, I leave you with a very humbled thank you. Keep calm and carry on.
“You never really leave a place you love. Part of it you take with you, while leaving a part of yourself behind.”