London - Big Ben, Thames River

The fear

Well, today’s the day. London is calling. How has it come so quickly? I didn’t even get through everything on my list.

What about that brunch I promised Mum? That never happened. This just came around so quickly. The days got away from me. 

Maybe I’ll take her for brunch when she visits. Yes, that will be fun. She’ll enjoy that.

Oh god, my throat feels scratchy! No, I’m fine. I’m sure I’m fine. Where are the Strepsils…

Everything will work out. It has to.

Airplane flying above clouds

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The hope

I remember waking up on that day, August 17th 2013, knowing that my life was about to change. How exactly? That much I didn’t know.

Living abroad was never something I really considered. Why? Fear, I think. Fear of the unknown. How difficult would it be to find a job? Would I be any good at it? Would people even like me? After all, I can be just as annoying as the next person. 

It was my last visit to London that ultimately made up my mind. With my sister happily settled in the world of Pimms and polo, I began to see the city with fresh eyes. In the past it was a place where breakfast, lunch and dinner took place in three different houses. That is, after all, the way of Sri Lankan family travel.

I had seen the sights, walked the tourist trail, but, I confess, I didn’t really know London.

You see, the real London is never going to be found in the glossy pages of a tourist brochure. It’s not at Westminster, or the Tower of London or even Buckingham Palace. Apologies, Your Majesty. The beating heart of London, as I soon discovered, is found in its people.

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The joy

I don’t pretend for a second that my life in London was perfect. When I landed on its cold and blustery shores, the problems from my previous life didn’t simply cease to exist.

I hadn’t worked in almost a year. Friends were few and far between. I had no way of knowing whether the same life was waiting for me in London.

When I tell the story of my two-year adventure abroad, it can often sound like something straight out of a Disney film. All sunshine and rainbows.

That’s not reality and it certainly wasn’t mine. Still, I was lucky.

Within a month, I had a home and a brand new career. Yet, I had never been more scared. I had dived headfirst into a new career and was surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Will this place ever feel like home? Do I have anything in common with these people?

The answer was yes; it did feel like home and the unfamiliar faces became the friends I had always needed.

london friends

The aftermath

This August marked two years since I left behind the teacups and tube stops. I could tell you about every detail of those two years; every brunch, every night out, every success, every life-changing moment. I could, but I don’t need to.

I don’t need to because the details don’t matter. Those two years were so much more than the details. They were about taking a chance on life. Finding something that I had lost, or maybe never actually known.

I thought leaving London meant leaving that part of me behind…like in a time capsule or something. Honestly, being back in Melbourne, it certainly feels that way at times. My life here bears little to no resemblance to my English escapade. There’s no more perfect job and the friends who became family are an ocean away.

So, have I now lost all that I found in those two years? No, I haven’t. The memories, the friendships; they don’t just disappear. I hope they never will. I know they never will.

Life may not be the same; it may actually be a million times harder, but do I regret that flight I took on August 17th 2013? Not for one second.

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Memories of a London Life