Yesterday marked six months since I moved to London and started a new life.
A lot has changed in that time. I've gotten used to looking left when crossing the street. I've over-enthusiastically made the word 'jumper' part of my vocabulary. I've stopped looking for the other half of the fridge.
I have my own flat in a perfect neighborhood, a contactless debit card, a local veg market, a favorite pub. I've met more than one guy unironically named Alistair. I'm lucky enough to live walking distance to work, with bright red double-decker buses as a backup mode of transportation. All signs point to my being extremely happy and lucky to call myself a Londoner.
I miss my old life - lives, really - sometimes. Of course I do. I miss Jochen, the German convertible I sold three years ago. I miss day trips to Napa Valley. I miss living across the street from the Santa Monica library. I miss the mountains and the lake. I miss knowing how things worked, and not having to constantly call out for help with questions about taxes, phone bills, healthcare, and such.
I miss my friends, who are too numerous to name. The box steps, the afternoon teas, the card games and wine bars. I miss sharing my life with someone.
It's hard to explain what brought me to London. The obvious answer is 'a new job,' but that's just the superficial side. What can I say? I'm looking for home. I've spent my whole life between two countries, the U.S. and Switzerland. I have one parent from each, one passport from each, and have lived roughly half my life in each. Both have made me extremely happy and maddeningly frustrated at various times. Donald Trump? Shut up. Minaret ban? Oh Switzerland, not you too!
And now I'm living somewhere in between. I could write pages and pages and more pages about what 'home' means to me, because it's always changing. The answer seems to vary on the time of day, who's asking, and my current mood.
Sometimes people ask me how long I've moved to England for. I have no idea! Maybe an Englishman will sweep me off my feet and move me to the Cotswalds. Maybe his name will be Alistair! (Note to self: look up where the Cotswalds actually are. Second note to self: venture beyond London and get to know the UK.)
So how about this? I'm from two countries that I truly love. They will always feel like home to me. But these days, when I walk up those two flights of stairs, let myself in to the Angel flat with the black door, and call out, "I'm home!" ...I'd like to think that's true too.