This is a huge deal for me and I swerve wildly between being really happy about it and being really sad. This move is very positive in many ways - it's a job that is a real step up from what I've been doing for the last few years, I'll learn a lot and grow in what I want to do. We are also able to afford our first home in Portsmouth, whereas that was always a pipe dream in London. In Portsmouth, we have a great living situation with friends while we do our last bit of saving and can get something really nice for our first home. We'll be living near the beach, we're a short drive away from the forest and, as everything is so much cheaper than in London, we have a lot more opportunity to try new things.
But all those lovely things are stacked up next to my sadness at leaving my home town. I was born and bred in this city. I am very attached to my little bit of the tube map. This has always been my home, the place brims with memories for me and leaving it is a wrench. Not least because this place is full of the people I love - all of my family are in London, most of my friends are too.
This is most definitely a move for the future - something that will make my future much better and brighter than simply staying here in my sooty little comfort zone. But right now I'm regularly besieged by waves of nostalgia and homesickness, before I've even left!
A few years ago, in one of my earlier blogging incarnations, I wrote a love letter to my city in the aftermath of the London riots. In a fit of nostalgia, I recently revisited that post and felt it summed up my thoughts and feelings right now, so I'm sharing it here:
London is something that lives and breathes for me. I feel it is mine in a way I cannot describe.
I love to eat chips, hot and salty out of the bag on the Embankment, right where I can see St Paul's. I love the solid cold stone seats The Scoop, the twinkle of fairy lights as the sun goes down over Regent's Park Theatre. I love the close heat of the underground, the phantom gusts of wind as I miss my train. I love weaving through the crowds on Oxford Street on a sweltering June day; the heavy Christmas decorations and the slush on the pavements. I love the post-club crush on the bus, the long walks home in blistering heels.
I once kissed someone, pressed up against the wall of my house one New Year. I once had a Hollywood kiss at 3am on Camden High Street. I fell in love in Harrow and my heart broke in Kensal Rise. I have eaten cupcakes in Brixton and enjoyed folk music on the South Bank. I meet people under the clock at Waterloo Station. I have collapsed on the top of Primrose Hill and then hauled myself up to make a fool of myself as I did a circuit in front of Sunday picnickers. I have had my wallet nicked in Camden Town and my hand held in Golders Green.
To those memories I will add some more recent ones.
I said 'I love you' for the first time, with eyes screwed closed, on the platform at Neasden. I swung around IKEA on a trolley to help a friend choose her first Christmas tree. I passed my driving test in Hendon, but still ride the 266 like it's my job. I've created zombies in Stockwell and Alices in Wonderland in Ealing. I've spent many a lazy weekend eating roasts and playing board games in The Priory Tavern in Kilburn and had my first tastes of Michelin star food in Marylebone (L'Autre Pied) and Fulham (The Harwood Arms).
Life is funny sometimes. I don't think I ever really believed I'd leave this place, even though my dreams since I was a child involved living in the country side or living by the sea. I met the man who's whisking me off to Portsmouth in London and I am lucky to have this man, who left Cornwall for university and so thoroughly understands my excited trepidation.
In a year's time, I fully expect to be telling you all the things I love about my new hometown, but in the meantime, remember when I said it was ok to be 'weak'? I stand by that. And I'll be saying goodbye to this wonky, posh, decrepit, tangled city with tears in my eyes.