Sinking down today, I am preparing for the changes my family and I will be making over the next couple of months.
Sinking down, today I make space to feel the depth of my sadness at saying farewell.
Sinking down today, I am connecting to old goodbyes that I can’t yet put into words but those I know left me feeling fragile, powerless and lost.
Sinking down, today I can go no other way.
We are moving. Out of London. After years of talking, dreaming and aching, finally it is happening. I’m excited and scared. In the last week I have observed myself starting to quietly unhook, detaching energetic lines from elements of our life here. I’m preparing. Today is another day in which all I can do is weep and feel the heaviness of my heart.
My romance with this city started at the beginning of my adulthood. It is where I began to fully learn me. One friend, many moons ago, called me “The United Colours of Sophie” and London, in all her beauty and darker sides, has been my playground for the last quarter of a century to explore the colours that I am. I have cherished the city for this. I have cherished the hundreds of souls I have been fortunate to encounter who have strode with me, and I with them, in these days with no end.
But I have struggled to embrace London with children. It has changed so significantly in these last years and I, with two small folk in tow, haven’t been able to ride this wave. Since austerity, in which London “lifestyle” is governed by an incessant need to spend. Since the Olympics, in which the city capitalised on all being uber. I can’t run with it. It goes against me. With my choice to stay with our children in the early years, I feel we live in a bubble. A different choice would have meant a two-income household, which could have afforded the pace of life that leaks coffee, croissants and cocktails, from every crack in the pavement. We could have then maybe kept up with the pressure to keep up. But what we might have gained in acquisitions and mini-breaks every weekend, we would have lost in connection with the two most important people in our lives.
Already I wish I could pickle them. Six and three years are such glorious ages. I want to cement them in this magnificence. Every big eyed smile and sweet words my daughter gurgles I drink, drink, drink it in because, as so many wise folk have whispered before us, blink and this time will be gone before we know it.
So, as much as this city has fed me, as a mother I have outgrown it. It serves me less well. Still, it’s crazy beat beats inside my heart but our rhythms are less aligned. Oh how I have loved finding myself, losing myself, finding myself here again and again and again. In it’s sprawling mass, in the backstreets I have learned in my awe of Black Cab drivers, in the nights that have led to dawn and friendships in all shapes and hues, my gratitude has been immense. But now I struggle to meet myself as I hanker for somewhere calmer and a more harmonious life-content.
East London was my spiritual homeland for many years. My forebearers had been it’s inhabitants not so long ago. Moving only three miles away, five years ago, I grieved deeply for a place that had so nurtured me for the first two in our present dwelling. So today, with this lesson understood, I understand what is to come as we adjust to a new life and make space for my tears. And know this place west, that has called us since the start of the year, beckoning us to move, was too the place of earlier forebearers and I sense them urging me home. I feel them paving a way for me to truly sink into my colours and, with wider spaces around and sea so close, to find a new refuge for myself and beautiful family.
Illustration: Inga Moore