A week ago we spent our last day in the United Kingdom after five years. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster ride, particularly over the past month or so, with my emotions jumping back and forth as we’ve packed, recycled, donated, or sold everything we own. All that remains of our time here are two small suitcases.
I’ve been trying to make being and expressing gratitude part of my daily habit. I realise gratitude is best shown/felt in the moment but late is better than never. I am guilty of hoarding a small mountain of gifts that I have yet to show my appreciation for, so, though it’s long overdue, here are a few of the gifts I am thankful for since having moved to London. Each thank you is unaddressed, so if you feel a connection to one of these, then clearly, I was speaking about you; you've always been my favourite anyhow.
Thank you for accepting me as I was, then just a wide-eyed boy, and giving me your patience while I caught up. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the trail that led me to become the human being I am now, but back then I couldn’t have imagined. Without you, all of you, I wouldn’t have been able to place my first foot right and because of that support I feel like I’ve summited mountains. The momentum of the city could carry anyone along (or tear them apart, but I lucked out there), I benefited from that extra push and now I feel inspired to keep moving.
Thank you for exposing me to a world bigger than I could ever have imagined. Whether it was those kindred souls, who shared my disparate and strange interests, or those many who took different, sometimes challenging, stances compared to my own. At times I felt comfortable swimming in my tiny little milieu but each and every time I had the opportunity to expand those margins I’ve jumped at the opportunity. Disagreement became an opportunity to practise humility, because I had no idea there were so many types of people, so many backgrounds and so many voices. And I considered myself reasonably open-minded, how naive can a person be?
Thank you for your enduring friendship. The bonds we’ve formed over these past years have been the highlight of my time here. It’s your influence that made me pick up my feet and rushed towards a better version of myself. I’m grateful for the time you have spent with me, the conversations we shared and the opportunity to be included into your family and friends. I went to your wedding, met you out for dinner, shared a beer or two and spent ages jawing on about nothing—probably computers, but who’s keeping score? What a time we shared!
Thank you for making me feel so humbled and so small. At the end of it all, I was, I am, I always will be an infinitely small piece of a cosmically vast machine: the city of London reminded me of that every day. Wandering past/through everyone else’s lives, the struggles of living amongst 8 million other people and its crumbling infrastructure, you realise how strange it is to be so worried about yourself and how everyone perceives you. Between the cracks I managed to find space enough to define myself.
Thank you for never settling or slowing down. Left to my own devices, I would still be plodding along, neither flying high or scraping the bottom, but never making any kind of mark on the world. Now, I feel different. Now, I feel hunger. Hunger to move a little faster and reach a little further. I saw you pushing to improve and leave the world better off than how you’d found it and I asked myself, “Could I do that?” That’s when it happened. I discovered your final gift: a sense of ambition and a drive to be my fullest self.
I’ve expressed my gratitude in words, but after typing them out I only managed to capture the tiniest vessels that float on an unending sea of my appreciation. For now this is farewell. Farewell to a city that helped define my boundaries and farewell to the people that made me whole. I’ll be back. I mean that sincerely. But for the time being know that I’m so very lucky to have met you at all, let alone for all the gifts you’ve given me.
Until next time, pal.