After the 30-something-degree heat and balminess of 10 days in Bali, London was cruel welcoming me back with lashing rain and a distinct chill that was more January than June. But you know what? I still ♥ London. Which got me thinking: while I love my holidays (you all know I love my holidays!), coming home is nevertheless always a special part. Because it’s the reflecting on my trip that cements my experiences of those new cultures and ways of life I’ve experienced and which consequently broaden my life. Plus my holidays put things firmly in perspective, reminding me about the elements in my life that are most important to me.
My friend Julie found herself in Bali some eight years ago… and never came home. I’d always considered Julie a complete Londoner, the last person you’d expect to move out of the capital – let alone set up life on an island as far away in both distance and culture as Bali. So planning to visit her in what she now firmly considered her home I did wonder if I might be enchanted by a similar spell.
There have been cities I’ve visited that have made me wonder what it might be like to live there. But it always comes back to the same thing: I could never move away from my friends and family for any length of time, let alone permanently. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t struggle to make new friends; but what makes my friendship circle so rewarding is its diversity. From girls I’ve known since I was a toddler to people I met only this year; from colleagues in some of my very first jobs to people I’ve met through more unusual circumstances; from people half my age to those considerably older. It’s a gloriously wide, wonderful and eclectic group. With every friend I’ve experienced something unique, and each enriches a particular aspect of my life. The thought of relocating to another country and giving up 50 years of friendship history is, for me, simply impossible.
So when it comes to wondering what it might be like to live in the particular city I’m visiting, however zen or zingy I feel at the time, the answer is always swift: no. Home is where my heart is. Home is London. (Yeah, Essex. But let’s not split hairs.)
This blog post sits under #ChallengeKate. As with my Japan trip, Bali wasn’t specifically a #ChallengeKate (although Julie might beg to differ: technically she did Challenge me to visit when we first started getting serious about booking the trip). But it is a holiday I undertook because of my 50th birthday this year – two of my best friends also reach their half-century this year and, having celebrated our 30th and 40th birthdays together, we’d always said we’d do something very special together to mark this decade. So this post rightly belongs here. And while this blog entry might not have resulted in the post-holiday report I’d envisaged when I started, the way it’s turned out has made me realise even more how important my friends are to me. Ipso facto, that’s EXACTLY the point of #ChallengeKate.