London is a city that gets a bad reputation from time to time. It’s crowded. It’s expensive. It rains a lot. I get it – and sometimes I feel it so strongly, this weight of the city.
But most of the time, nearly all of the time? I love it. It’s a city that speaks to me, that excites me, that motivates me. In London I’ve found a fulfilling career, a lovely flat, and a great group of friends; in London I’ve found a home. Over the past few months, after going through a bit of a period of stress, I have made a conscious effort to enjoy every single day in London, and to fill my time here with as many museums, cafés, parks, shows, and outings with friends as possible. I’ve been very open about my love for London, writing a post about why it deserves all of that love and even why I felt strongly about settling here permanently.
And then something happened: my master’s program finished.
The phrase “summer reads” gets thrown around a lot – I guess because summer implies sitting around in a garden sipping lemonade with a good book. Or sitting on the beach sipping a margarita with a great book (much better scenario, really). And while summer has already started long ago, it’s never too late to delve into a big old pile of books… right? Here are a few books I’ve read lately and can recommend, along with some books I’m eager to read this summer.
I’m always a little bit wary of people who say they have no regrets. Really? Not one? There’s not one thing you would change about your past, not one decision you made or sentence you said that you’d like to take back? I used to be one of those people who said “no regrets!”. I used to write it in my high school journals after asking a boy out and getting rejected, or missing out on a party because I felt uncomfortable with who I was. In my fifteen-year-old mind, these were all the regrets that I could possibly have.
Yesterday was my birthday; I turned thirty-one years old. As much as I love my life and feel proud of (most of) what I’ve done, I still have regrets, some big, some tiny. Instead of banging my head against the wall in shame, however, I’m trying to take those regrets and learn from them. If those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, I’m going to try to do the opposite. Here are some of my regrets, and why I’ve learned to embrace them.
I have had many, many moments of extreme happiness in my life, and I am grateful for them all: scuba diving with great beasts in the Galapagos, riding on the back of a motorbike with Cambodia’s pink skies as my backdrop, hearing the calls to prayer for the first time while sitting on a rooftop in Istanbul, dancing like crazy on a Colombian dance floor, all those family dinners, those moments of personal achievement in school and work that have peppered my life. They are the highest highs I can think of. So many of my happiest moments have happened on the road, or with my family. But now I live in London, a stable, settled life. I am thousands of kilometres from those I love most. Although my career and my passion allows me to travel frequently, they are short holidays. And so, sitting in my flat in London, I found myself missing the high.
Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving. It has been a bit of a tradition to write on this blog every Thanksgiving; I did it here, when I had just moved to London, and in 2012, when I was in Peru, and in 2011, when I was on a road trip across North America. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving was my quietest one ever, with no visits from friends or family, and no traditional turkey dinner. With many texts and a few phone calls, I was still able to connect with these people, and, sitting alone in my flat eating a very ordinary dinner (albeit a “traditional” Canadian one, and by that I mean a box of Kraft Dinner mac and cheese), I realised that I didn’t feel sad or lonely. I felt quite the opposite.
There was always something calling me to keep travelling, to keep moving; the nomadic lifestyle appealed more than a sedentary one. That’s why all my paycheques went toward holidays or longer-term travels, and why I spent most of 2010, 2011, and 2012 on the road, with barely any breaks.
But then something changed. And although I’ve been realising the change for the last year, as I watched London go by from the cab window yesterday it all was achingly clear: I’m not ready to leave this place. I really like this place. I think that, for all of the wanderlust still in my bones, I want to settle in this place. Permanently.