I’m not sure when it first dawned on me that this five month trip wouldn’t end with us returning to our “old” lives in London. It’s possible I knew before we left and that would explain why saying goodbye to friends, flats and routines was as much of a heart-tug as it was.
We’ve been on the move now in Southeast Asia for just under two months, but the change in NewMan was almost immediate.
To put it simply, he smiles more.
Far from being a grumpy young man, even he would agree that back in London (his home of 6 years as he was born and raised in Sydney, Australia) he wasn’t always the world’s smiliest soul. I’ve secretly always thought that this was just as well because I find his smiles so broad, cheeky and genuine it would be a shame to waste them. Yet for the last seven weeks more often that not when I steal a glance at him I see a smile; either that devastating grin in full bloom or the twitches of a small secret smile being contained.
We’ve only spoken about his newfound smiles on a few occasions. It somehow seems pointless discussing how happy we are while we are in such beautiful places experiencing so many once in a lifetime things.
Recently though I have mentioned how the travel bug, which has been burying under my skin since the day we left, has now spread and is reproducing, re-emphasising itself like an aggressively active bacteria. Although we have many months and many more miles ahead of us I am already thinking I want to do more. I don’t want to stop. His reply was non-committal but steadfast and heartfelt.
“I don’t want to go back to London, that’s for sure,”. Without me pressing further he followed up with words whose weight shocked me, although they were no great surprise. “I’m done with London.”
I am a Londoner. I am unconditionally in love with London and I genuinely believe there is no other place on earth quite like London, so of course his words were a kick in my pseudo-cockney teeth.
But I am also a traveller now and I find myself falling in love with travel a bit more everyday and I genuinely believe that traveling will open up anyone’s mind more than anything else.
I have always juggled them both like a wife and an illicit lover; sneaking off for a weekend here and there, saving up for longer holidays, but always returning to the predictable and reliable love of London. Maybe now’s the time for these roles to swap?
And let’s not forget NewMan, another love of mine. If you only knew how good at being single and cynical I was you would know how much I value his love, companionship and smiles.
On occasion it’s been too easy for me and maybe a handful of others (who may or may not have my best interests at heart) to think a little negatively about our scenario and his recent vetoing of London; I’m following him, he’s stopping me from returning to a city I love, I gave up my career for him etc.
The facts are these: I still have London and I will always have London thanks to six years of memories and the comfort of knowing it will always be home whenever, if ever, I chose to return. I still have a career, it’s just changing shape right now (as I move to become a freelancer) and already the benefits of this new direction are making me question why I didn’t do it sooner.
And if it seems as if I'm following him, well, NewMan himself will tell you that I walk far too fast and independently to follow anyone. In fact the only way he can get me to slow down and walk in line with him is to firmly hold my hand…
This blog post is dedicated to NewMan as it's his birthday today. Happy Birthday! x
Frances M. Thompson
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