Let's just get it all out there. For three years I haven’t been very nice to you. I’ve called your people rude, your productivity mediocre, and your weather shitty.
But now that I’m back in the US - for real this time after one last tiiiiiny trip to see you again - I want to say:
I’m sorry for the unkind words I spoke out of vitamin D deficiency.
I know that you’re having a tough time right now, and you could probably use some positivity. (And I don’t mean to tattle, but last weekend, some of the most British people I know got so upset about your politics that they threatened to join me in the US – even with this going on. I’m just sayin’… you may want to look into it).
However, the truth is- I could’ve done some things differently too. There is a lot that I’ll miss about you. Three years is long enough to build new habits, shift one’s outlook, and make lifelong friends who are worth following around the globe. Truthfully, you have affected me in all these ways, spread throughout my work and life.
Don’t tell anyone, but as we were sitting around our friends’ breakfast table on Friday morning... drinking espresso, hanging out with their cool baby, debating how companies handle their women employees all wrong... I accidentally thought, “Should we have [gulp]... stayed?” (It was a slip; I didn’t mean it, Nashville, I swear)!
Even though I didn’t reeeeally mean it, the sentiment was pure. And since I'm getting mushy, I thought I may as well share some of my favorite things about you:
- Your creation, London Dave. As my grandma would say, “jeepers creepers!” It’s unbelievable what living in a land of no eye contact will do for an introvert’s confidence ;)
- People are so well-informed. Meaningful conversation about politics and global issues abound in the office and at home. I really had to up my game to contribute.
- Colleagues take their holidays. They know that your weather is unreliable (to put it nicely), so they unapologetically leave the office behind and take vacation. For the record, I am totally into this.
- The fashion. I loved playing dress-up and reducing my closet to only contain black and gray. It sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not. You made me feel modern and chic.
- And lastly but very significantly: You showed me how to chill the f*** out at work. I finally concur: not everything needs to be done at Northeast American pace and aggression. People over productivity. You win.
Of course, the underlying current to all these is the people. My Is-this-my-life? moments all centered around meaningful conversations with global citizens, who I'm proud to say have become lifelong friends. And this isn't just my opinion; the Global Power City Index has called you "the most magnetic city in the world" for five years in a row, and your score on cultural interaction is a driving force of this honor.
This is an important point, and I don’t mean to be short about it. The mix of cultures and people absolutely deserves the most attention, but it's too deeply rooted and important for me to unearth now - but I will one day, Rowan, I promise ;).
When I asked myself if we made a mistake leaving, I had drifted away to a place of nostalgia. I am very happy to be back in the US. My journey through London was difficult, but the professional and personal outcomes have been tremendous and ever-lasting. And I’m sure that you still have more to teach me; maybe we’ll have a sequel together one day. Dave swears that we’ll be back.
But until that day, dear London, I’m asking forgiveness for the unkind things I’ve said. I do love you.
A better (albeit paler) Julie