Before we left, London felt very much like home. Different to that feeling of a childhood home admittedly, but familiar, known. Yes, the tube is crammed and hot and dirty. Sure, there are more tourists here in London than you can bear and no, none of them seem to know where they're going. You don't get change from a tenner for two glasses of wine. Half your salary goes on rent. None of that matters (or so I thought) because you get to live in The Best City in the World. You pick a neighbourhood that suits you and develop a knowledge about it that is tantamount to expert. It's a land of opportunity, there's always, always something to do, the restaurants are second to none and when you jump in a black cab and cross one of the bridges, beautifully lit up in the dark night, gaze out of the window at the skyline and reminisce on your fabulous evening, you wonder why you would ever leave.
Turns out that leaving it is the only way to wonder why you ever lived there. The tube is hot and crammed and dirty! There are tourists EVERYWHERE and none of them can find their way across Oxford Street! (visiting Oxford Street was a mistake, I hold my hands up to that.) You don't get change from a tenner for two glasses of wine! Half your salary goes on the rent of your one bedroom flat before you've paid any bills!
Befuddled as to why I never realised any of this and vaguely annoyed at the prospect of AM being right about something yet again, I have been walking around the Big Smoke like a cliché in a daze since Monday. Conversations along the lines of: AM "why don't we move out of London and into somewhere with more space and greenery?" Me "but I need to be near civilisation! There's nowhere else like London! I'll be so bored!" were happening way before the Sabbatical idea took shape. My reaction to being back here has been met with some level of relief on both sides. His, because he already knew it was time to live somewhere else, and mine because had I wanted to stay or realised I'd missed it desperately I've no idea where that would have left us. Up a dirty river with no oar, that's for sure.
Despite all of this, catching up with friends has been fantastic. Not many of them have seen us without commenting 'you look really well!' which is sign enough for me that France has refreshed us. They'll just have to come and visit us across the Channel. I thought I had a London itch to scratch. Apparently the itch has gone.
Ps. I still love you London, I just can't live with you anymore. It's not you, it's me.