Life is made up of chapters, and in my own life, a pretty magical one is about to end. After three years and three months of calling London home, it's time for the next adventure.
When I first shared this news with people, a lot of them expressed surprise and asked me why I'm leaving, but it has never been a case of it I'd leave... only when.
London, for me, was never a forever move. If I'm honest, almost three and a half years is longer than I'd expected to stay. I have loved it every bit as much as I had hoped I might, but I want to leave while it is still all love. This isn't always an easy place to live, in fact sometimes it can be really bloody hard – something I think Kiwis need to be more honest about, rather than always painting it as a dream land of opportunity. I have always said that London demands you pour love into it, but believe me, if you do, it will pay it back with interest.
Words could never hope to describe how crazy beautiful this city is. For me it's often been something of a love/hate relationship, but on Friday as I left my Soho office for the last time and walked down the vibrant streets that feel like home bustling with equally vibrant characters who have become as familiar to me as the back of my own hand, I felt nothing but love and a deep sense of gratitude for London and the immense experience it has granted me.
I have often heard people comment on others' or their own ability to "make London their own," but I am not so presumptuous in my convictions. I believe that rather, London has made me its own.
More than a city, London is like a giant, ever-evolving organism; it will never not be growing. It will never not be beautiful and unique and magical. To be so lucky as to say I was part of London's story – for however brief a time – and for it to have been part of mine, is something I will never take for granted.
On one of my many walks exploring the gems this city has to offer
So, where to? The northern English town of York is to be our new home; a town that was just this week voted the best city in the U.K. to live (call it a coincidence that it falls on the very week we move if you will...). I have been utterly under its spell since I first visited back in 2016, and when my boyfriend Jesse and I discussed our next move, there was never really a question it would be to York.
People who haven't been ask, "why York?" People who have been nod knowingly. It is the single most enchanting town I have ever been, and we're lucky enough to have found ourselves an equally enchanting home there. With just under 200,000 residents, I can appreciate it wouldn't be for everyone, but I've never been a city person at heart, and I cannot wait to live in a smaller town again.
York is simply stunning. I don't know if it's thanks to my lush illustrated fairy tale books, but I've always had a dreamy vision of what old England looks like, and when I first visited York, it felt like stepping into that very dream. Cobblestone streets and old Tudor buildings, ancient city walls and beautiful churches, wobbly medieval buildings and markets where people know your name.
As well as this though, I have a very real problem of wanting more than I can ever possibly have from life. I watch movies, I travel, I read books, and I get glimpses of ways of life I immediately want for myself. It's what lead me to do a high school exchange in Italy when I was 16. I see all these different avenues that my life could take and it's not that I don't want the life I have, I just want to be able to live another one too. And another. And another. But life is linear; we only get the one avenue and our time is limited.
When I said goodbye to one colleague last week, she said "you're really maxing out on this whole experience, hey?" I nodded and smiled, but thought to myself, why shouldn't we be able to say that about every single person? Why would anyone NOT max out on this experience called life? Like I said, we only get the one... what else is it for, if not maxing out, getting everything that you can from it, whatever form that may take.
When I do eventually go home to New Zealand, it will be with the intention of staying put, so I don't want to leave any box un-ticked. I want to be entirely happy to be going home; I want to feel fully satisfied and nothing but grateful for the time I have had overseas and how I have spent it. Right now, that means moving to York, so off to York I go. I cannot wait for the adventure that awaits me there.
Until then, I have a short time left in London Town, and I plan to squeeze every moment for what it's worth. Just because I'm calling time on my love affair with this city, doesn't mean I won't love it forever. It's such an incredible feeling to be leaving this place with no sadness, only gratitude for the time it shared with me; the people it brought into my life, the doors it opened for me, and the memories it gifted me. I love you London, deeply. Thank you so much for taking me in and teaching me more I had ever hoped to learn.
I am beyond excited to call York my new home