I have to take this time to admit something: all that talk in my massive goodbye note/life story of how I’d had to revise that very piece of writing as the time came closer, and I still wrote it a week ahead of time. I did so out of simple necessity; I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain myself properly when the time came. I knew I’d need a bit of a buffer, which was the same reason I wrote my first draft in November, as I mentioned. I knew the last couple of days before I left would be a mess of emotions.
I still wasn’t really prepared for them.
Certainly I expected to cry a lot, and certainly I expected to think of how I’d miss everyone. I didn’t expect to start crying in the car on the way back from family dinner on Wednesday night because I thought of my best friend and how she and I’d shared our final-for-a-while evening of beers, hilarity, and honest conversation. (It’s been such a fixture in my life for some time now, Friday nights providing a certain type of insane sanity that I’ve desperately needed.) I didn’t expect to end up sitting in the kitchen later on with my mother, clutching a photo album to my chest because it contained pictures of so many of my nearest and dearest, from whom I was willingly removing myself for the sake of a dream(!!!).
I guess I can still surprise myself after all. Come to think of it, that’s a great deal of what I do these days.
And then it was the morning of my last day in Ottawa. I’ve been waking up awfully early lately, generally 3 or 4 a.m., and my brain’s immediately launched into a groggy recounting of the facts of my existence. You are Leslie. You’ve lived in Ottawa all your life. You’ve wanted to live in London since you were 19. You’re about to do that. Are you excited? Are you scared? Hard to get back to sleep when my brain gets going, so I’ve been dulling it with music, with TV shows, with whatever’s able to distract me enough that I can drift back to sleep for a while. S’not so easy to be functional on only a few hours of sleep (says the girl who worked opening shifts at a coffee shop for nearly two and a half years and almost never went to bed at a reasonable hour). Better to sleep in a bit and then tackle my to do list.
(For the first time possibly of my life, I managed to tick off every item on a to do list yesterday. It felt awfully good, I must say.)
So it was some ridiculously early hour, and then it was 7 a.m., and I had an email from my best friend saying she was in denial that I was leaving, and asking what time she should be at the airport to see me off. I replied, and then managed to coax myself back to sleep. When I woke up again at 9-something, I looked at Facebook, and saw my beautiful friend and former roommate Shawna had set her profile picture to one of me and her from years ago. My darling friend Kristin had followed suit, with a photo from my goodbye party. If there’s ever been a way to make someone burst into tears first thing in the morning…!
If I’ve mentioned that my friends never fail to baffle me, quadruple that bafflement and you have my day. Because as time went on, more and more people joined in. Photos pulled from years of friendship, all on Facebook, all at once. Silly pictures, lovely pictures, and everything in between. I never thought my leaving my hometown would incite a movement, but there it was, every single time I looked at Facebook all day. Memories of all the moments I’ve shared with my very nearest and dearest, for all to see.
And to those of you who participated, and those of you who wrote on my Facebook wall or sent me texts or emails or tweets, thank you. To those of you who came to my goodbye party, and those of you who couldn’t make it but were able to find time to see me before I went, thank you. I’ve never felt more loved in my entire life than I do right now, sitting alone in the common room of a hostel across the ocean from the place I’ve always lived, and I’ll never, ever forget it. I’ll never let it slip from my mind how much you all care, just as I hope you’ll never forget how dearly I love you. (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.)
My parents and I arrived at the airport at around 7:30 p.m. last night. The place was remarkably quiet, and the girl at check-in told me that I’d be likely to have a section of three seats to myself. I hardly argued. No! Stick me next to a stranger who I can bother with my constant shifting and weeping! Nidal (the aforementioned best friend, for those of you who somehow don’t know) arrived shortly after, and the four of us sat at a table for a while, talking about anything but the matter at hand. We had nearly two hours to spend together, and in that time we laughed and distracted ourselves. But finally it was 9:30 and therefore time for us to face up to things, so I shared extremely tearful goodbyes with my parents, and then they left me and Nidal to our goodbyes. To be honest, neither of us is any good with emotional matters, so we basically spent the time expressing our bafflement at this turn of events (as if we’ve not both known since October 2011 that this was going to happen eventually) and laughing about silly things so that we wouldn’t cry too much. (Spoiler alert: I still did.)
(Spoiler alert #2: I am again, in the common room of my hostel. And I cried a bunch on the plane. Imagine how crazy I look, crying everywhere I go? Now imagine how difficult it is to care.)
The people in security were remarkably patient with me, all my sniffling and forgetting how to function like a human, and all the time it took for me to get myself organized on the other side. Apparently emotions and functionality don’t mix, guys!
But here I am, actually doing this thing. That’s a bit crazy, isn’t it?
The glorious Laura (dare I say glaurious?!) (nope, sorry, I daren’t), otherwise known as someone who is pretty much the same person as me, otherwise otherwise known as one of the greatest people in the world (which is unrelated to how she’s me, promise!) sent me a letter to read on the plane. An hour and a bit in, and a mini-bottle of wine at hand, I was finally brave enough to open said letter, and it was the best letter I’ve ever received, and I just needed to tell everyone that. Like, I mean…
So thank you so much to Laura.
I’ve wasted no time and have arranged to view a room in a flat this evening. Fingers crossed it’s amazing and they’re willing to accept a tenant who doesn’t have a bank account or a job or anything…?! After that, I’m going to meet up in Camden(!!!!) with some amazing friends I met last time I was in London(!!!!!) because that’s what my life is like now(!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
………. I’m a bit excited!
And very sleep-deprived and emotional and ALL KINDS OF THINGS, YOU GUYS. I was staring out the tube window and then my cab window, mouth agape, and then I recognized the street my hostel was on, and then I had to jam my luggage into a shed(!) because I can’t get into my room for another hour, and now I’m sitting in the common room, being emotional.
………………. I’m in London, you guys. And severely undercaffeinated. Costa ahooooyyyyy!