Going back to London

Moving to London has been a dream of mine for over 12 years now. I was born in a town named Bedford in 1983, which is a town about half an hour north of London. Up until I was 9 years old, I lived in different areas of London, mainly an area in North London called Finchley. My sister and I lived there with my Nana, and Uncle Robert. It was a small apartment, but there was lots of them, so we had a lot of friends there.

It wasn’t a typical upbringing. An enjoyable weekend for all of us was hours at the local pub, the grown ups soaking in the sun over a pint of beer, and us kids playing on the bouncy castle, and this big wall that you could throw yourself up against while wearing a velcro suit.

It wasn’t what many Canadians would consider a ‘normal’ upbringing, but it was normal to me. I remember eating saveloy sausages and chips out of malt vinegar soaked newspapers, while watching the Lacrosse guys play in their bleach white suits. I remember walking through Regents part on the way to school, counting squirrels, wearing wellingtons, and twirling my umbrella. I remember having afternoon tea and baked beans on toast.

We didn’t have much money as my Nana was raising us alone, but we had big imaginations, and that kept us busy, and happy. There was nothing exotic or luxurious about my upbringing in London, but it was home.

After we moved to Canada when I was 9 years old, life got better and better. Our house was bigger, my sister and I had our own rooms, and everything was bigger, everything. I grew up with more and more friends and better and better jobs. I can’t really complain about the 18 years that I spent in Canada. But I can say that it never really felt like home. Even at 10 years old I completely felt how conservative the people where, and at that age I couldn’t even tell you what conservative meant. I felt like an outsider from day one. Partially due to the kids at school that didn’t like my funny accent and fancy clothes. As a new kid in Canada, I never felt comfortable with their sub-par use of the English language and over sized hoodies paired with baggy jeans.

I remember how hard it was for me to donate my little blue sailor dress with the matching white hat. That just wasn’t going to fly in Canada. I never understood why it wasn’t okay for me to wear that dress and be different, but at that time, it was just easier to be like the other kids.

We visited England many times in that 18 years and each time felt magical to me. I loved the rain, the smell of fresh cut grass, the fresh fish, the markets, the pubs, the castles, the rolling hills that made me feel more free and more myself every time than I ever did in Canada.

I learnt more and more about the family we left behind there over the years, and as I got older I realized what a blessing it was to leave England and move to Canada.

While we were living in Mexico, B and I started talking about England. My face lit up as I showed him all my pictures from previous visits. We spent most of the afternoon having the ‘what are we doing here and where to we want to be’ talk. We didn’t feel challenged, or motivated. We felt an intense desire to experience something new, and to see other parts of the world. We decided that day that we would move to England. We didn’t know how or when. But we knew it, the same way we knew we needed to go to Mexico.

The last week in Mexico I applied for a few jobs in London. One in particular that really excited me. I didn’t get my hopes up, but I did rush to the laptop every morning with a bit of sadness when nothing had come in. I didn’t apply for too many jobs. It was my last few weeks in Mexico and I didn’t want to waste it on the computer. We spent the last of our time in Mexico being completely indulgent. At the beach, at Casa Isabel, drinking and eating whatever and whenever we wanted. It was the best way I could think to spend the last of our time in Mexico.

When we got back to Canada. B went strait to BC to see his family, and I went to my grandpas house. I immediately fell into the deepest post Mexico depression. I went from having an apartment 2 blocks away from the beach in paradise, to sleeping in my old room again. I went from having an amazing job to no job at all and no money. I went from having all the freedom and fun I could ever ask for…to being back where I started in Canada when I was 9 years old.

Despite how unbelievably hospitable my Grandpa was, the depression was super intense. I didn’t know where my life was going and I felt like a failure. I felt silly for thinking I could just….leave Mexico and move to England. I felt defeated by life and like I had lost everything because my ridiculous ideas. 4 days into this, and I am actually contemplating taking up drinking full time.

B texted me that night from BC after I had too many beers and was living vicariously through my past in Mexico by sobbing over all the paradise like pictures. He asked me to come to BC and spend the weekend with his family. It’s amazing how easily B can turn my mood, and my life right around in moments. That’s not always a good thing, but in this instance, it was exactly what I needed.

The next morning I boarded the 8:30am flight to Kamloops and spent a lovely few days in BC with his family. One morning I woke up in the loft of his parents Cabin like home and received an e-mail from that one exciting job I applied for, asking for an interview. My heart starting beating faster and I felt melty. I felt like screaming and jumping and running. I can’t remember ever having so much energy and excitement.

All I could think for the next week was about this interview. About how this amazing job in London could change my whole life. About what I would do if I didn’t get the job. With no job, no money, no home…I didn’t even want to consider that a possibility. The next week I spent completely obsessing about this interview. I perfected the presentation they asked me to give, after changing it about 23 times.

That Friday morning I woke up at 4:15am to make it to my 4:30 skype interview. I didn’t care that perhaps they didn’t consider the time change. I wanted this job more than ANYTHING. I was surprisingly calm during the interview. Especially considering we had spent the first  hour of the interview troubleshooting skypes audio settings. But during the interview I didn’t feel nervous at all. I felt like I actually had answers to everything they asked, and felt excited to share with them my experiences.

After the interview I laid in bed. 5:30…6:30…7:30…8:30..I just laid there. But I couldn’t sleep. I was imaging B and I holding hands walking along the Thames river. I was thinking about me doing life changing work for this amazing organization, and all the poor people I was going to help. I was thinking about traveling through Europe, showing B where I grew up, the best pubs, the Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben, The London Bridge, driving through rolling hills and exploring castles on the weekends. I started to get completely crazy and thought about exactly how I would like to decorate my small yet cozy European style flat in London.

They said they would let me know Wednesday. It was only Friday morning. That weekend I pretended to listen to a lot of people I wasn’t actually listening too. Which is actually quite awful because I saw many awesome friends that weekend that I hadn’t seen since before Mexico. But I couldn’t help myself.

I could not stop thinking about English markets, art galleries, architecture, and experiencing real culture in a magical country. I daydreamed and imagined B and I just taking the train over to Paris for the weekend, just because we could. It was getting VERY out of control, but I maintained my composure, and mentioned it briefly in small talk at gatherings that weekend.

Monday morning I woke up and saw an e-mail titled “Major gifts and Corporate Events Executive – Offer”.

Before even opening the e-mail I quite literally dropped the phone, and unconsciously let my entire body fall to the floor, and cried the most dramatic cry I have had in years. I didn’t know why I had to cry like that, but I guess you never really know how you’re going to react when all your dreams have just come true.

I opened the e-mail to just confirm that it was indeed a job offer. That would have been tragic. But it was the job offer. It said ‘We would be delighted to offer you the position”. I laughed at how adorable their British charm was, and felt so excited to meet the team.

As B was on the road at the time, he sadly found out via e-mail, or Facebook, I’m not sure which one. I booked my flight for August 18th which gives me 3 days before I start work to look for the perfect flat.

Searching for a flat in a city of 15 million is overwhelming, to say the least. But of course it’s fun that my search for a flat in London is the most overwhelming struggle in my life right now. It still doesn’t feel real. I feel like the luckiest lady in the world.

However, I am not going for 45 days from now. So… that gives me lots of time to enjoy a Calgary summer before starting a our new life in England.


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