Moving backwards

London’s scale tires you now.  You live in an inner anywheresville suburb and you’re considering a move two steps back to City 1.  This is as much for the people and the place – which you’re fond of (though beware the blurred unreliability of nostalgia), as for the sake of change, of refreshment and difference – which you need.

Is moving back admitting defeat, going backwards, reversing? 

It shouldn’t be, of course. 
Go where you think you’ll be happiest.

That makes reasonable sense.  But there’s still that nagging feeling that you’ve given up, resigned ambition and sense of discovery by failing to seek newness again, rejecting a forward step in favour of a backward one, even if the city you’re moving back to isn’t of an insignificant size.

Discarded dreams of living overseas seem silly now, naive and idealistic.  Perhaps if you’d had balls and said ‘screw it’ a year ago: just went, flew by the seat of your pants a little, then who knows?  Not a strategy for the risk averse though, or for those comfortable with a certain living standard.  You didn’t want to wind up in a huge houseshare doing an average office job in an overseas country just because it was an overseas country, did you?  You still don’t.

Do you?
Or do you.?
No. You’re getting too old for all that now.
But still.

You don’t know.

Another part of you wonders if you shouldn’t stop moving from city to city.  Get a new flat or move to a different part of town, sure.  But only by hanging around a place for a while can you gain a real mass of contacts and connections.  It takes time to develop in the same way a business can, the number of people who are willing to pay you money for doing what you do.  You have to sit tight and hold your nerve.  Cutting and running means you keep having to start again and starved of water / beer those young sapling connections wither and die.  You had periods this year when you thought perhaps you were beginning to develop such a network. 

And your romanticised view of City 1, those memories and associations you’re applying are disproportionately positive.  Like fond memories of an ex, you don’t recall the crap stuff so readily, how your supposedly best mates can be generally rather rubbish.  They have their own lives and partners now anyway.  You’ll still be sitting in a room – albeit perhaps a nicer one – on your own, doing exactly the same work you’re doing now: work which you feel largely ambivalent about.

But you need the promise of change.  Difference.  A closer feeling community with fewer people, even if it’s ostensibly artificial. 

You wouldn’t be dying by making a move back.  Your passport wouldn’t be stamped LOSER and frozen for all time.  It’s just one move and all the cities of the world will still exist if you make it.  There’s nothing final about the decision. 

Having said that, you could see yourself tiring of City 1 again in another 18 months to two years, getting restless and retracing your steps by moving back to the smaller cosy betweeny City 2, still easily restless, still unshackled, still free but utterly aimless. 

And then what?

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