As time rushes towards our leaving date, London’s vibrancy and life almost floors me like it did when I was a newcomer. A few weeks ago I found myself walking across Blackfriars Bridge snapping pictures of graffiti on my old film camera. My hands freeze but the riverside, with its unique mash of architecture crowding behind it, still absorbs me. Another morning I sat outside a tiny coffee shop near Great Ormond Street, staring at the vivid blue sky, and almost forget I was on my way to work.
Justin and I wandered Camden on a late Saturday afternoon, looking for a venue for leaving drinks and decided we should have done this same walk as new arrivals. We’ve tried to get as much of London’s grit under our fingernails, spent as much time in pubs and in parks as we can before we go.
One evening on dusk, I found myself daydreaming on my bike and only realised I forgot my turn as I cycled past those steps leading up to St Pauls. I’ve since started cycling past it on purpose, because it won’t always be in line of sight.
Our room in the flat still feels like home, but every day it feels less “ours.” Now pictures have come off the walls and the things we value have been packed and stored. The big space above the landing outside our room which fitted our map of London perfectly is bare and that’s how it sinks in a little that we’re actually leaving for more than a holiday.
After having our heads down, planning this trip and learning about gear for most of the winter, we’ve been trying to catch up with those who will have babies, buy houses, get new jobs while we’re away. Like when we left New Zealand six years ago, we’re acutely aware that life continues.
It will be hard to say goodbye to London. There’s a list of things that we never did, or never did enough, that we definitely don’t have time for now: visiting the Transport Museum, watching a 3D movie at the Imax, wandering some of the other museums one more time; but with limited days left, time with friends is more valuable than any of that.
We’re not sure where we’ll end up when we stop cycling and we hope we’ll sort of figure that bit out along the way. Having spent six years in London, part of me likes leaving unfinished business here. Its a good excuse for coming back.