A woman just got on the bus with a beleaguered look on her face. It's as if every step she takes and every person she encounters is a nuisance and a burden.
I recognize her expression. It's common in London. I've worn it myself many times.
Already this morning I've cried because none of my maternity leggings are clean and nearly screamed at my husband about the state of our flat as we attempt to pack all of our belongings into boxes.
Neither of these were proportionately appropriate responses. But it was as if the situations were tiny pebbles thrown on top of an already towering pile, creating a load I could no longer carry.
When I first moved to London it made my soul sing. I felt expansive. My dreams seemed more possible. I was in love with its bigness and busyness.
I don't want to say that it changed me. The patterns that have emerged over the past 18 months are ones I've recognized in myself many times throughout my life. I'm just not cut out to be a Londoner-for-life.
The busyness, the bigness, I’ve come to find it exhausting. A simple trip to the grocery store feels like it takes half the day and saps most of my energy.
For a while I told myself to "just change my mindset" about these things. As if I'm endlessly adaptable. As if every place is right for every person in every season of our lives if we just try hard enough.
It’s tough though. We used to say we’d never leave London, that we loved the idea of raising a family here. I suppose things started to change when the opportunity to buy a house presented itself. With our budget, we could buy a shed in zone 6 or a 2-bedroom family home in the north.
We could raise our kids here, but what kind of life would it be? The financial sacrifices that used to be worth it now just don’t line up with our priorities. Working harder, faster, longer to maintain our lifestyle doesn't feel good. For 12 months I’ve been yearning for space in every area of my life and I just couldn’t find it in London.
Our identities can get so caught up in the places we live. Moving there had been the dream for me for a long time. I worked really hard to make it happen and I'm so glad I did. My life wouldn’t look anything like it does without having lived there and every moment, every sacrifice was worth it. And now they’re not. That's the simple truth.
That was a hard fact to accept. That the thing I’d wanted so badly no longer fit me. But London is seductive. She’s magic. Did I really want to give that up?
It certainly wasn’t the cool option. But there are things I want a lot more than cool. And this life we’re building - this life that I love and am so excited about - it needed more space to bloom.
So we’ve moved to Liverpool and already life feels more spacious - physically and energetically.
Of course I’ll miss London. I’ll miss my friends, the flocks of green parrots, Broadway Market, Columbia Road, kimchi burritos, the street art in Shoreditch…
But not living in London, I know we’ll actually be able to experience more of it when we visit. We’ll have more time, more money, more energy for all of the wonders she has to offer.
Sometimes we have to let go of old dreams in order to stretch into new ones. There are always growing pains as old parts of our identities crumble and new ones emerge but it’s a good kind of ache and I’m so excited to see what this next chapter has in store for us.