I feel like I left for our Scandinavian cruise a resident of London and now I’ve come back a tourist. It is August 1st today and there is exactly one more month left 12th(!) today; I started this post almost two weeks ago and now there is but a scant 2.5s week left to the honeyyear. We move out of our flat August 31. The next day, we celebrate our one-year anniversary.
Allan and I travelled during many weekends this year but we also spent many, many at home in London. But I don’t regret this at all. Because nothing makes you feel like you’re truly living in a city than choosing to curl up at home rather than partake in any of the awesome things the city has to offer, because those awesome things will still be there tomorrow, and the weeks and months after that.
Only in just a couple more weeks, they won’t be there anymore. In the days since our vacation, I have become increasingly more anxious about all the things I’ve yet to do in London (see the free National Gallery! Take the train to Cambridge! Climb the dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral! See more of the stunning British Museum!** Eat a real English muffin!) . Then I become wistfully resigned to the fact that some of those things just won’t get done.
It is completely mind-boggling how fast the days are whizzing by, due in no small part to the number of hours each day we’re devoting to a pair of pesky dissertations that we’re scrambling to finish (and by “we” I mean “me”; in typical Allan form, he is almost done). It is consuming 90% of my waking (and sometimes sleeping) energy, which is probably a good thing as it’s keeping me from feeling even more obnoxiously sorry for myself that I’m soon leaving this city that’s been so good to us.
This past weekend we started saying good-bye to friends in our building and at church. On Saturday night a group of us were trying to decide over a fancy dinner overlooking the Thames in the restaurant at the top of Tate Modern, or a potluck barbecue in our building’s garden. We chose the barbecue. I invited my friend Erin, who was visiting from Toronto, to come along, and was worried that I wasn’t showing her a proper London experience. But she had a great time, and remarked that it was wonderful to be able to get a glimpse of our lives in London: our home, our friends, our food, our rituals. And as we sat around in that garden, wrapped up in thick blankets and hoodies at midnight, roasting mini marshmallows in the glowing charcoal embers and making detailed plans for cross-city and cross-continent trips to visit each other, I knew she was right.
So as I head into these final weeks of our time in London, I’m going to try my hardest to write a fabulous dissertation, and to cross as many things off my bucket list as possible, but most importantly for me, to create some time to think and reflect on how grateful I am to have had this year at all.
*The title of this post was lifted from a book on things to do in London; I am not so clever as to have come up with this.
**This offence is particularly egregious, as I can literally throw a stone from my school to the British Museum’s back entrance. Perhaps it is because it was always so close by that I never thought to make time specifically to see it.