Leaving on a jet plane

Daniella Porano
March 26, 2015
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Coming back to Pearson from Gatwick in March of my Grade 12 year, I promised myself that I would return to London, the city that won my heart, as soon as I possibly could. In the haze of first and second year, my mind was primarily focused on the adjustment to university. Everything felt new and exciting, and I was eager to absorb every possible opportunity.

Like everyone else, I felt lost and confused in my third year. What did I really want from life? As much as I tried to prevent the thoughts, I continued to dwell on London, which to me felt like endless possibilities. I dreamt about the city constantly, thinking about its gorgeous buildings, the millions of stories that made it fascinating, the ease of European travel, and the overwhelming cultural access. For someone who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area, London was an absolute visual masterpiece, a sensory overload. I vividly remember walking to school when it dawned on me that I didn’t have to deny myself. I could do this. What was really holding me back at this point? I played with the thought for over a year, until I began applications to graduate school in fourth year with the determination to move to London, something that scared me as much as it excited me.

The question that tormented me on a daily basis was coated with expected anxiety and a deep analysis of my own personal strength. Could I leave everything and everyone I had ever known to move across the Atlantic in chase of a dream? Was I just lusting after an elaborate illusion that I had cultivated from a touristy week abroad as a form of escapism? I didn’t know.

I thought about my friends and family, and how intricately I had weaved my life around theirs. I thought about the streets of Toronto, the places that shaped me, and eventually, I began to feel more excited than afraid.

I’ve begun making mental notes about what I’m going to miss. And there’s so much. Sunday lunches with the family, drunken, pizza-filled nights with my best friends, and trying new things all summer long. How am I going to leave my family, who, in my case, is the reason I’m even able to go at all? I mean, how do you say goodbye to someone you’ve shared everything with for years?

You don’t.

I’m probably going to mutter “I can’t wait for your family Christmas party” to my best friends, accompanied by some sort of half-hearted drinking motion, through a sea of tears. I’m definitely going to beg them to “come and visit me - because I mean it is free room and board! All you have to do is cover your flight!” What I’m really saying is thank you for everything. You are part of the reason I am able to do this, and I love you. Please come stay with me, because I want to share this with you.

It’s not a goodbye, it’s just a new chapter that I am lucky enough to open surrounded by people I care about. While I can vividly picture the plane ride to London, I can’t quite imagine how I’ll feel when I land at Gatwick or Heathrow. It’s a feeling that no travel blogs or expat guides can describe adequately. Maybe I’ll feel like I’m ready to take on the world. It’s more likely I’ll feel like getting back on the plane and turning around to fly back into the familiarity and comfort of home.

My life has become a giant love letter to London, to travel, and to being able to do things I thought I couldn’t do, and I have never felt freer.

Next September, I’m moving to London, England.

I don’t know how long I’m going to be there or what it’ll be like. For once, I genuinely don’t know what to expect.

And that is refreshingly okay.

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