You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I’ve been thinking about that saying a lot. We are so prone to taking things for granted. Really, I think it’s impossible not to take things for granted. We subconsciously grow accustomed to different aspects of our lives. Often, it’s only when those things are gone that we even realize they were there in the first place.
I’ve been thinking about this saying a lot throughout my semester abroad. At first, I was thinking about it in regard to my life back in the United States. As I began adjusting to my life in London, I started thinking about the things I love about my life back home. I expected to miss the bigger things, like my family and my friends and Johns Hopkins and Baltimore and Boston. But I also found myself missing the smaller things. Walks home from my shifts in the Office of the Registrar, after most classes are over. Late nights sending rehearsal reports after play rehearsals, when I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. The distant sound of the Hopkins lacrosse announcer’s voice booming in the distance that you can somehow hear wherever you happen to be on campus.
Now, as I’m sitting here in my favorite coffee shop on my last full day in London, I’m thinking about everything I’m going to miss about London. I’m thinking about the big things I’m going to miss. The new friends I’ve made. My classes and my teachers. My neighborhood of Camden. The West End. My favorite restaurants and museums and shops and parks and buildings. But I’m also thinking about the smaller things that have truly made up my life here. I’m thinking about the lurching feeling of the bus as I try to walk down the stairs when we’re arriving at my stop. I’m thinking about getting lost in Morrisons, the giant grocery store in Camden, and never being able to locate the exact aisle that I need. I’m going to miss the wall next to my bed that I decorated throughout the semester, where I would tape up tickets and postcards and photos I collected. I’m going to miss the feeling I got crossing the Waterloo Bridge at night on the 168 bus towards Hampstead Heath when the Thames opened up in front of me and I could see the lights of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the handful of skyscrapers in the distance across the water. I’m going to miss the feeling I got every single time I walked to the top of Primrose Hill and saw the city skyline in the distance. I’ll miss writing these blog posts.
When I was coming back from Brighton on Sunday, as we were arriving in London, our train crossed the Blackfriars Bridge and gave us the most beautiful view of the city out the window. I’m going to remember that view for the rest of my life, not just because of how spectacular it was, but because of the feeling it gave me. I didn’t feel just like I was back in London—I felt like I was home. And because London has become a home, I know that I’m going to be leaving pieces of myself here—at Bloomsbury Coffee House and at the National Theatre. Wandering around Regent’s Park and walking along the South Bank and riding on the Northern Line. At the Stay Club in Camden and at the IES Abroad Centre in Bloomsbury.
How am I supposed to leave somewhere that has become a home? I don’t have a good answer to that question, and I’m not sure I ever will. I know I’ll be coming back here someday, and that helps a little bit, but I also know it won’t be the same. It breaks my heart to write that. And it breaks my heart to think about walking to the Piccadilly Line tomorrow morning and leaving this city behind me as I descend down the escalator. Endings will never be easy. But it also makes me indescribably happy to think I’ve found something here that makes saying goodbye so hard.
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:25.0pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">Hi, I'm Tori! I'm a junior English major at Johns Hopkins University. I'm from Boston, but I spent most of my childhood in New York City. Now I'm at school in Baltimore, and I'm getting ready to spend my spring semester in London (clearly, I'm a city girl.) As an English major, you won't be surprised to learn that I love to write and read. When I'm not typing up a paper or engrossed in a novel, you can find me in our theater on campus where I'm a stage manager, checking out restaurants in Baltimore (my current favorite spot is a tiny doughnut shop called Diablo Doughnuts), and taking pictures of anything and everything.</span></p>