I appear to be living in an alternate version of Aesop’s tale, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. In this story, Toby Town Mouse visits his friend Pipin in the country and promptly whisks him back to town where they will eat like kings. But *spoiler alert* Pipin declares ‘This town life is too much for me’ and off he goes, home to the countryside and his snuggly moss bed.
Currently we find ourselves in a week of ‘lasts’, for this Saturday we return to London in what has been possibly the fastest turn of events ever. Our friends have moved out of their rented flat in sunny South London and ventured – shock horror – up to North London, gasp! And joy of joys, we are moving into the aforementioned flat . . . in four days time. It all happened as if by magic, with the wave of a lemon meringue pie spoon H declared ‘So shall we move into Audrey and Neville’s when they move out?’ and seemingly two days later, with great thanks to Nev, the deal was done. I spent several days doing an excellent impression of a goldfish and pinching myself; after all my bleating about being homesick and missing London could we REALLY be going back?
Well yes, in fact we are, and I won’t pretend to be anything other than really, genuinely can’t-stop-smiling-and-occasionally-leaping-in-the-air happy about it. It would be disingenuous of me to do so; I love London, I miss it, more than I really thought possible, and to go back there when I didn’t know if we ever could is amazing to me. H and I have had endless conversations about where to settle, London is too expensive to afford a family home and so we were constantly discussing where we would end up.
H: ‘So where do you want to live?’
‘If we can’t afford to live in London and we have to commute, where do you want to live?’
Sighs of exasperation. ‘Where, apart from London, would you like to live?’
‘Melbourne. I really love Melbourne too!’
‘I give up.’
And so on and so on. Until a couple of weeks ago, when this opportunity arose and we seized it, thereby eliminating H’s crazy four hour daily commute and affording him plenty more time with his baby boy in the week. No more 5am starts and returning at 10pm due to a missed connection, no more not seeing his boy for 3-4 days at a time, when work commitments mean he can’t travel home in between meetings far and away. This time is so special, H is not going to look back on it in years to come and wish he’d spent even more time on the train.
But – and this is a big but – how I will miss our friends down here. Old friends (for this is the place where H grew up) and new, for it is also the place we did NCT. I have been made to feel so welcome, when I was lost and heavily pregnant and sad for the friends and life I’d left behind, surrounded by boxes in a place I knew only for visiting. Our friends here made it their business to help me settle, to invite me to classes and the cinema and for walks and coffees and dinners. Friends who had recently had babies offered hours of support and advice and reassurance. And our brand new friends, whose babies were born around the same time as Zee, have shared in this most incredible of all adventures alongside us. We turn to each other for all the ‘Is this normal?!’ moments and take comfort in the fact we are in this together, we are all doing our very best and cherishing every moment, even the downright bloody hard and exhausting ones.
Happily, it is not goodbye but farewell, because we will still be visiting all the time, they can’t get rid of us that easily . . . we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the very best of both these worlds. But I knew on the day I took Zee on a big walk around one of the most beautiful beaches here, across the sands and looking out to the sun tinted sea, that the fact I could think only of how much I missed Brixton, was a sign the homesickness wasn’t going anywhere.
It seems I am a Town Mouse. My starry dark is the Southbank at night. I’m thrilled to return and take Zee adventuring all over the capital. I take with me many happy memories of living here. And for those I am truly grateful.