In not very much time at all, H1 and I will be jetting off to London.
I only really just got excited about this a couple of days ago, when I started organizing our social diary for the trip. We have some good friends here in New York; however, we have many more friends in London still, and it took me a while to work out that we'd get to see them all. Cue: rabid excitement, and a few half-brained ideas about how I can get all my work done and still spend all my time socializing. (Answer - I can't. But I'm sure it'll work out somehow).
It is a work trip, for both of us - or rather, for me, a 'I have to be there but I'll just work as if I'd never left here' trip. Being a freelancer has very few benefits, but situations like these are definitely one of them. As is the freedom to set your own hours and therefore visit Bloomingdales or the nail salon outside peak hours, when everyone else is in the office - something I very rarely do, but something that it is nice to know I can do, should I want to.
So. London. Excitement - but nervousness, also. A lot has changed since I was last there, nearly two years ago. Namely, London is no longer my home, and it has nothing to indicate that it ever was, apart from a group of friends. What was my home in London is now a friend's home (when you have a good flat you make sure you pass it on to someone you know to be deserving) and this has presented its own problems.
I can't imagine being in London, and not in 'my' flat. I was trying to explain this to H1 the other day, as we searched for a hotel - a difficult feat, as London has the same problem as New York, whereby all moderately-priced, clean, well-located hotels that have a modicum of style are non-existent. The problem may be even worse in London, in fact, as the English are much more attached to their competing patterns and chintzy decor than anyone else. Thankfully, we benefit from a friend's absence for most of the trip, and get to base ourselves in his decidedly non-chintzy flat, but for a few nights, we are hoteling it. So we spent a couple of days trying to find somewhere decent (somehow, and I can't pinpoint when or how it happened, we have gone from a 'lets fly Ryanair and stay in a hostel in the red light area' attitude to outright sulking when the best option is a lowly Marriott) and nearly succeeded on a number of occasions - until I found something wrong with the place (I don't like Bayswater, Paddington is soulless, everybody knows there's nothing decent in Notting Hill, and so on) each and every time. Eventually, in frustration, H1 sat back on his heels, looked me in the face, and passionately cried, "Well, where the bleep do you want to stay then?" Except he didn't say bleep.
"Our flat!" I responded in frustration. "Our flat in Fulham!"
A concerned look came over his face, as he clearly debated whether to humor me or gently let me know that it was no longer our flat, given that we hadn't paid a penny in rent on it in nearly two years. He took the practical way out, and pointed out that it was a very tiny flat, and even if the friends who now live there were happy with us on the lounge floor, we wouldn't be, even if it meant avoiding a hotel's diabolical color scheme.
I knew this, of course, and I know this still, and I've begrudgingly settled for a hotel in Marylebone which just about meets my unrealistically high standards. But I still feel a slight pang when I think of it, ridiculous as it may be. It reminds me of when I moved out of home when I was 18 (the first time - the term 'boomerang child' could have been invented for me) and had a huge, hysterical crying jag as I tried to pack up 18 years worth of stuff, to the utter bewilderment of my parents and friends. I was pleased to be moving in with my friends, and excited, and all the rest of it, but I hadn't thought about the fact that that meant my home and my room would no longer be mine, and, being the self-centered, possessive type I am, I didn't like it. Now is like that. I love New York, and I'm happy to be here, and this flat is way better than 'my' London one (at the elevated price, one would hope so) but I'm still having some trouble dealing with it (despite the fact that I am now far older than 18, and nobody in London ever cooked me meals or made my lunch with the same willingness that my mother did).
The good news is, I anticipate getting over it very quickly. Probably on the tube from Heathrow, in fact, or maybe even before, if the train is held up for some solid reason like leaves on the track, or rain, or any of those other everyday occurrences that seem to take TfL by surprise every.single.time. I look forward to it.