I’m in my home city and it’s a perfect autumnal day. The sun is warm, the breeze has a slight chill and the sky is a clear crystal blue.
I’ve been putting this off for years. After a decade of visiting, I needed to stop. I needed to not feel caught between two “home” cities. I needed to carve a story that was so much more than survival and upheaval. I could never write that story here. I stopped even wanting to a very long time ago.
Now that I’m home, my city has welcomed me back with open arms. The streets feel brighter, warmer and brand new to me – I’m proud to be borne of this spirit but I’m glad that over time, my memories have been erased with time and construction.
I could never heal looking at these same streets without reprieve. I didn’t know that, though. All I knew was that I didn’t feel I could face it and I didn’t know when I’d be able to. It’s not often that I listen to myself, not often that I choose to acknowledge my own hurt, fully but I’m glad I did.
I’m on my dream holiday and it’s a perfect autumnal day. The sun is shining but the breeze has a distinct chill that paints my cheeks a sweet shade of scarlet.
I’m 30 today.
As I look around, this city looks like everything I’d expected but also like nothing I ever could have imagined. It smells of sweetness, of bourbon and of life. I was warned that the locals may not be friendly and the pace may knock me off my feet but, if anything, I feel at home.
I’m seeing my 20s off 3.2 thousand miles away from where I experienced them and as much as I miss home, I’m glad I’m starting a new decade in a different place.
This city tastes like hope, ambition and a touch of sour cynicism to keep you on your toes.
There have been moments when I’ve thought the world may have started here. There have been moments I’ve thought that the complexities of this city may just be the epitome of its appeal.
I haven’t worried once while I’ve been here. The life that terrifies and overwhelms me at times is a different one to this. I love them both.
When I was younger, I imagined this city as my savior. I fantasised about the peace it would bring me and the new life I’d start here. It took me so long to get here and now that I am, I’m glad I’m not trying to escape my life anymore. I’m glad that my life is what it is, even if breaks are sometimes necessary. Exhaling is just as vital as inhaling.
This new decade feels like the fresh start I’d always wanted but I’m still bringing the things I love with me.
A Green Place
I’m home and the first whispers of winter have immediately kissed my tired face.
My bones ache, I’m not convinced that the past 7 days of my life really happened but I’m back in the soft embrace of the Dear Green Place that I live in.
I haven’t come back a new person, a changed person, a happier person. I’ve returned as my complicated, broken and whole self.
I’ve returned as the person this city always let me be.
Wholly, warmly and without expectation of who I should be. The people, the animals and the stories that I love the most all live here in one form or another.
I expanded into my skin in this city. I stretched my toes, I learned my own words, I found community and, for the first time, I let myself be seen.
It’s good to be back. It’s good to leave.