I moved to London 20 years ago. The first days and weeks were hard. I was homesick big time; I was missing the feeling and the security, which familiar environment offers. I had never been so far or for so long away from my family than that one summer in 1998.
I was 19 back then, and like any 19-year-old young adult I longed for the independence, change and freedom, which I knew I could never find in Poland, and London was oozing with those.
I was planning to be in London for a short time, preferably just for the summer holidays. The summer holidays turned into a year; a year turned into two, three, twenty. Soon enough London became home. Every time I was away for too long, I felt uneasy, and I missed London and my life and lifestyle here.
At one point in my life, I decided that I was tired of the constant noise of London and I tried to go back to Poland. But soon enough I realised it wasn’t going to work for me. The freedom, choices, opportunities, and possibilities London offered was not something that could have been reproduced easily by another city.
I always felt that London had this something, something intangible that I still cannot really define. Something that sucks people into its craziness and outrageous lifestyle. This something that holds one a hostage in London and makes imagining life outside of the capital nearly impossible.
Of course, everyone in London complains about the traffic, the transport, the pollution, and how unaffordable life is becoming; and it is all true. It is always a love-hate relationship between the Londoners and the city. London is a such a mixture of everything that is good and bad in our culture.
Now and then I meet people who tried to leave and start all over again in another place, but just like I, they too found it impossible to settle down. I guess the fear of missing out, not living in the centre of the centre is what makes leaving London behind incredibly hard. Or maybe it is merely the freedom and refuge London seemed to offer to those who wanted and needed.
London keeps a tight invisible grip over people who come to work and study and doesn’t easily let go if the person isn’t determined enough to leave the London years behind. Something many EU citizens have been thinking and pondering over in the recent months. London, just like the rest of the UK, will change after Brexit. How Brexit will transform the city is to be seen, but the racist outbursts against the EU nationals don’t bide well for a bright, open-minded future for what used to be one of the best cities in the world.
What I know for sure is that my love-hate relationship with this city will be ongoing regardless of where I take my EU passport and talents to. Currently, I am working hard on imagining my life somewhere else; in a different city and a different country, and I genuinely hope my visualisation will work like a charm.