There was one thing I wasn't anticipating doing in London. I was only going to be here six months, I figured, and besides, cultivating these things takes time. Plus, who wants to have to say goodbye?
What was that one thing? Making friends.
How wrong I was. Here I am halfway through my time in London and I can honestly say I have two genuine, honest-to-goodness friends here. We hang out, joke around, and have had those uber-sappy "I'm-glad-we're-friends" moments.
The first is Greg, a coworker at the office. At first we would just chat in the office, commenting on the hyperactive children playing in the schoolyard outside my office window or musing on the eccentricities of the English (he's Greek-South African). Now we hang out outside of work too, popping into the pub after work to debrief from a long day or going for a stroll through Hyde or Regent's Park on the weekend with his wife.
The second is Phoebe, my flatmate. We both like to cook and drink wine. (We share a philosophy of Julia Child's: "I enjoy cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking.") Last Saturday, she invited me out to her mother's house in rural East Sussex. It was so low-key and relaxing, just what I needed after spending so much time in London. (You don't realize all the noise and lights around you in the city until you're out in the silence of the countryside with about a bajillion stars overhead.) We hiked up Firle Beacon, sipped pear cider at a country pub, and took part in one of my favorite pastimes: porch sitting. Her mother stuffed me with obscene amounts of delicious food -- we're talking brie quiche and the like -- and then insisted I eat more. (I obliged.)
I guess, originally, I didn't really want to make any real friends while in London. When you care about people a lot, it's excruciating to have to say goodbye to them. I just did it with graduation in June and then leaving Ohio. I wasn't keen to do it again. But that's the price we pay for loving people, I guess: having to feel the hurt of leaving them. The only alternative is to never have them in our lives. C'est la vie.
I'm certainly not looking forward to saying goodbye in three months' time. So I'll just raise my glass high and appreciate my time left with my new friends. That's the only thing any of us can really do, I suppose.