In April 2008, I went to London on a little holiday with my mom.
Craig and I were due to move there a month later.
(The holiday was planned and booked before the move so the timing was a bit mad!)
I had been to London twice before but this time was different.
As the morning light appears, you notice little icicles on our plane window. 'Snow!' we hope. 'Maybe we'll see snow.' Soon we are rolling our bags through Heathrow and texting the boys to tell them that it's actually sunny and amazing. We get our Travel cards, hop on the Tube and head into Central London! I am excited but there is a strange twinge in my stomach. After unpacking our bags in the warm student digs, we make our way to Carnaby Street. The buildings are magical but we're tired and my stomach is twisting badly. Every time a crowd rushes past my heart jumps. As we stroll down Charring Cross Road, offices empty with suited people and my eyes start to water. I ask if we can nip into Starbucks and you say, 'Sure.' As I'm ordering our coffees, I try to blink back the tears but they start to fall. You reach into your bag and grab me a handful of tissues because being a good mom, you always have tissues. I tuck myself away in the corner of Starbucks, sobbing into tissues and thinking there's no way I can survive in this city. Everything moves fast like the Tube and the people walk with such purpose. I think of calling Craig to tell him I can't do it anymore. I don't have whatever it takes to be one of these people. It wasn't like this on holiday. I loved London on holiday but today it is terrifying. Early that evening, I fall into a deep sleep in our toasty little dorm room. The following day, I'm determined to fill up with excitement as we wander around the city's attractions. But by night fall, I feel defeated by the city and want to crawl back into bed. You say, 'Why don't we go to that indie club you wanted to go to?' I'm shocked! 'Us - go to an indie club - mom and daughter? Haha!' But you say, 'Yes!' and soon I am trying to dust on some eye shadow in the hope of feeling like myself again. We make our way to Notting Hill and head into this poky little club where a mad band is playing and there is bunting hanging from the ceiling. There are cute couples making out in the corners and the friendly barman gives me a stripy straw with my drink. When the DJ plays the new Arctic Monkeys single, I start to smile and you tell me, 'See, everything is gonna be alright.'
Thanks for such a special holiday mom.
That year in London was one of the hardest but happiest years of my life.
Visas permitting, we would have definitely stayed for longer.