Leaving A Beloved City
There is a curious sensation that one goes through when leaving a city that has become so beloved: a profound happiness for time spent there, laced with sadness for the end of a dream. I touched upon this a little in the last post, but I still feel like I haven't quite explored these feelings within me.
I have felt this way before, only once, following an exquisite semester in Paris. Living in the French capital had been a pipe dream I'd harboured since my early teens, built upon bad romances set in the city and incubated through numerous trips. I adored the entire experience, and remember comparing the feeling of post-Paris as something akin to a break up: a sense of ownership that is no longer valid, in which photographs plunged me into melancholy fondness and the desire to turn back time. I had expected it, knowing how long the city had lived in my heart, and so such despair came as no surprise. These current feelings, however, were not quite as anticipated.
A year ago the only sensation I felt with regards to leaving New York was sheer relief: I was in an unhappy relationship, one that would end mere days into my Costa Rican trip, and had spent more time in an office than anywhere else. Any love for the city was severely dampened by the miserable circumstances, and thus the desire to get back to the comfort and safety of England was overwhelming.
Fast forward a year and, love for England aside, I couldn't feel more differently. As you may have seen from the words flowing on this site, I have utterly adored living in the city that never sleeps and certainly made far more of it than I did on prior trips. The work was wonderful, the sun shined, and I felt myself growing with confidence with each passing day. Which is great, until it ends.
It is a sudden change, this crossing of countries. A dear friend's (badly timed) vacational visit days after my departure both excited me (as I inundated him with places that he simply had to go to) but also left me sad. When I saw his snaps of Washington Square Park, I was back amongst the flowers and birds until I remembered that I was, in fact, in England.
All dreams end, they simply cannot span on infinitely. Perhaps if I had remained then something might have gone wrong, or I would have fallen out of love with it. Instead the city has become cemented in my heart as a place in which I felt happy. The summer between my junior and senior years of college will cause me to sigh with delight for beloved days gone by. How lucky I am to have lived it, but allow me a little sadness now.
The next step is working out how to carry the experience with me: the increased confidence cannot diminish, simply because the circumstances have changed; my renewed faith in men shouldn't falter because I no longer live in the same place as the person who proved to me that dating could be good; the habits of reading and walking that built me up day by day may be harder to transfer to Abu Dhabi, where temperature and time constraints make both difficult, but that doesn't mean I should completely disregard them as I enter my final year of university.
Perhaps you too have had a similar situation, in which you had to say goodbye to somewhere you loved dearly. I hope you have reconciled this move with yourself, as I am trying to, and carried the lessons of the last home as you progress. We are, after all, the product of our experiences: the good, as well as the bad, and I will forever be grateful for this summer's markings upon me.
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