The first time I went to London, I was obsessed.
I was 20, and I went a gig in Brixton with some friends I’d made on the internet.
(Typed out like that, it sounds maybe a liiiiiiiittle bit unsafe, but then the year before I’d flown to Los Angeles by myself to meet someone I’d met on the internet, so maybe my self-preservation instinct had gone a bit wonky.)
I had no idea of the scale of anything, and the whole adventure ended with a 2am drive from Watford to Sevenoaks so I could stay overnight with another friend I’d met online, and honestly, her parents must have been so annoyed, but it all seemed so glamorous and exciting to me.
London became the goal. I wanted to move to London and I wanted to work in media. So, somehow, I… did? I found a cosy houseshare via Gumtree, packed my bags, and moved. I didn’t have a job to go to, but I found one, becoming a staff writer on a technology magazine. I didn’t know anyone except some internet friends, but I made some. I volunteered to work at a film festival, and I somehow inserted myself into a scene and a community and made it work.
But somewhere along the line, I lost my love for London. It didn’t happen overnight, but over a period of years, it stopped feeling like a glittering city of excitement and possibility and just started feeling like a burden.
Moving out to the Home Counties probably didn’t help – yes, Watford is technically on an Underground line, but it’s in Zone 7, which is definitely Hertfordshire and not London. Having to spend an hour on a train before you even get into the city makes everything feel a lot less possible.
And then there was COVID, and anxiety, and, you know, I’m definitely not 20 any more, and the whole thing just didn’t seem worth it any more.
So I moved north.
And now I finally feel excited about the place I live again – but it is going to be weird, not being close to London. Who will I be, away from the Big Smoke? Guess I’ll find out.