There’s a sense of leaving to everything, now. This is the last day of the holiday writ large. I try to soak up as much of London as I can as who knows when I’ll be back? Who knows when I’ll see these people, these places, feel these emotions that I’d taken for granted would continue forever. I’ll be back, I swear to myself and others, I’ll see you in a year. And we smile.
I had forgotten how much I loved the British Museum; it was the first thing I saw of this city, when I visited almost four years ago. The entrance foyer is my favourite place in London, maybe in the whole world – grand and welcoming, an echoing hall of noise and soft light. I catch my breath whenever I walk though. I am taken aback by the scale of it. It was here every day if I wanted it and I’ve been here ten times in two years and now I’ll not be able to come back whenever I need to.
There are things you don’t realise you’ll miss until you think about it. things you take for granted. The taste of good beer. The messy destruction of a chicken burger sat cross-legged on the floor at 3am. Bottles shared. The wet smell of Norwich station and the road that leads into the city. Walks by the river, any river, all the rivers. Cut grass. My friends holding on to me in some swamp-hot nightclub, screaming at the top of our lungs. Names. Faces. Places that I recognise. All gone away.
And we leave in half an hour and this has become terrifyingly real, pushed over the edge from hypothetical to actual. This is happening. I have said my goodbyes. I have said too many goodbyes; four or five to some people, each time hurting more and more. There are no more goodbyes left inside me. I am fleeing, now. I am leaving my life behind. Sometimes it feels exciting, and sometimes it feels as though my heart will beat itself to pulp and fall out of my chest and leave me hollow. I am only an internet away from everything I’ve tied myself to over the last eight years, a succession of masts in a succession of storms, but it still feels too far.
I love you, London, Norwich, England. I love you but we are breaking up and I cannot take that in. I am going far away to sleep under strange stars and I will miss you more than I can say.