Seitzgeist: A Slight Return

Posted by in October's Magazine

So I came back up the road for a friend’s wedding recently for the first time since I moved to London. After a horrendous train journey (I was sat next to the smelliest man on earth, who listened to Basshunter very loudly on tinny headphones, and whose bag dripped something suspiciously sticky onto my head from the overhead luggage compartment) I was relieved to get off at Waverley. It was late, and I stole myself in readiness for the city: the glow of the castle, the majesty of the Scott Monument, the distant twinkle of the lights from the old town as I’d emerge from the station. And yet when I did, I felt…well, nothing.

I wanted the feeling of familiarity to flow over me like a comforting blanket. I wanted to bask in the sights and smells of Auld Reekie, and feel its embrace reassuring me that I was home. But instead I felt as though I had travelled back in time. I felt like I’d never been away.



People say that, don’t they, when they’ve been away from home for a time? And the inference is generally that this is a good thing. ‘It’s like I’ve never been away!’ suggests a comfort in this fact – everything’s just as it was left and that’s a good thing. And perhaps if I’d been away for longer it would be, but as it is I’ve only been away for five months.

Lots of eye rolling
I spent the first day back trying to shake off the uneasy feeling. I was knocking around my old stomping ground but things didn’t feel quite right. My life in London felt like a million miles away. Which was strange, because living in London I never feel that far removed from Edinburgh. I feel like I carry it with me and it’s a part of who I am.

I felt as though I’d awoken from an elaborate dream in which I’d been given this amazing career opportunity in London and was for the first time in years living a life I’d always wanted. I felt like I hadn’t really done any of those things, and that I was right back where I was – struggling to find work, lonely and desperately unhappy. I told myself not to be so bloody stupid. I even checked my work emails to remind myself I hadn’t dreamt it all up.

Friends reassured me that nothing has changed since I left but in fact things have changed – they have for me. I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been. I have a great life. I’ve met some amazing people. I have a brilliant job that I’m good at, for a company which recognises me. I’ve just met a boy who is so incredible, and so lovely, I barely know how to describe it. I wanted a reminder that time has passed and good things have happened because otherwise I’d still be utterly miserable.

Of course it was lovely to see my friends. I miss them and it was great fun to catch up. There was definitely a comfort in that familiarity: easy banter, old haunts, in-jokes, lots of eye-rolling and knowing looks. While I’ve met some great people down here, I treasure these old friendships and it was the best thing about being back.
However, one of the people I particularly enjoyed seeing was my friend Vicky. In the time that has passed since I left Edinburgh, she’s been growing a baby bump and a veritable glow. As well as being thoroughly excited for her and her lovely husband, the very sight of her marked the passing of time. It was a visual reminder that as much as nothing is really different, things have changed. And that is what I absolutely needed to feel.

When I left I felt calm, and happy. Edinburgh had become my foe before I moved away. The city in which I had grown up seemed to have nothing more to offer me; I felt as though she had chewed me up and spat me out. Coming back to visit was a little bit like climbing back on a bike after falling off – it made me feel nervous that I’d hurt myself again but once the initial fear passed it felt good. I returned to London feeling like I’d made my peace with my city, and knowing that on my next visit I’ll be happy to note that it’s as if I’ve never been away.

This month I’ve been mainly…
getting to grips with my new role at work and loving every second of it; stocking up on scarves and getting excited about Autumn; laughing; thinking about Christmas and getting excited about the notion of mince pie-eating; hating my hair; planning my birthday weekend; giving in to anti-ageing skincare; laughing; having a love affair with the new music on my iPod; going through a cinema phase; winning the pub quiz; spontaneously grinning like a lunatic; embracing the butterflies in my tummy; going on lovely old-school dates, holding hands and spending time laughing with a very, very nice boy.

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