Someone once said to me “I think you can fall in love with cities the same way you fall in love with people”. I didn’t know it then but that statement would have a profound influence on my life. In my travels, and the countries I’ve lived in, I have learned that cities hold their own personalities just like people. One city can hurt you and another can heal you, one will be a place where you’ll thrive and another will be one with struggle.
Each city you reside in will bring out different parts of your personality. They have ways of forcing different parts of yourself to the surface. Of showing you different traits and skills are more important there than you may be use to. You are never the same person in each place you call home. Different cultures, languages, and lifestyles help to shape and mold your daily life. I am a different version of myself in each city/country and because of that I care for them differently.
Over the years I have come to know well the blessing and curse of having multiple places that you consider home. It is truly amazing to have multiple places in the world you can go to and feel at home. But your heart will never be whole again. No matter where you are there will always be another place you miss. That is the compromise you make in your heart when you love more than one place at the same time.
You see, I have one heart but two homes. I grew up in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada and it will always be where I come from. It will always be “the true north strong and free”. I feel I have its beauty to thank for leading me to pick up a camera and start shooting. But I left that home and moved to London, United Kingdom. There is where I made a home and built friends into family. Where I fell in love with its streets and the European life. These two places hold two very different lifestyles for me and I love both.
In British Columbia the outdoor adventurer in me becomes prevalent. You’ll catch me in work out clothes, doing yoga, climbing mountains, swimming in the oceans or chasing waterfalls. But B.C. is mainly an unrequited love. No matter how much I love the natural beauty it has never treated me right. It is not where I am happiest, it is not where I am most appreciated, it is not where I feel like I am living my best life.
In London you’ll find me in formal business clothes, sitting in rooftop bars and beautiful places, enjoying the city life. It is where I chose to live for myself and where I built a home. It is a city I fell head over heels in love with and where I always feel complete. In London I am always grateful and happy. I have been the healthiest I’ve ever been. And I had friends who became family that love and support me unconditionally.
When I am in London I do miss the beauty of always seeing mountains and having the ocean or a lake just a short drive away. But when I am in B.C. there is a part of me that is missing. When I am in British Columbia I know which one has my heart more because there are times I can sob from how much I miss London and the United Kingdom. And when my plane lands in London I get this overwhelming sense of calm, happiness, and peace. I know I am where I need to be.
I love both for different reasons and they each have a different place in my heart. They are both great loves of my life but different loves. I have no doubt that throughout my life I will come back to British Columbia to visit and spend months exploring its beauty. But it’s not where I will build my future. Instead London is a city I can see myself in for a long time. I don’t know that I will grow old there but it will be a significant chunk of my life.
You see there are some places that are special and unlike any other on the planet in the way they make you feel about yourself and your life. You feel like your life is a gift, you are always grateful and even on the days when your life may be up in flames you still feel lucky that you live in such an amazing place. London is that place for me and I’ve come to know how extremely unique that is to find. And my piece of advice is: if you find that place for yourself don’t let it go for anything.
Cities have a way of unlocking different parts to yourself that you didn’t know existed. London for me is a place where I thrive, where I am sure of myself, and where I am irrevocably happy. I became the woman I knew I always had in me but was beaten down and wired for struggle in Canada. Sometimes the home we were raised in isn’t the place we are meant to stay in. I encourage people to make homes in different cities and countries. You’ll discover new places but more importantly you’ll discover yourself.
Having a nomad and wanderlust filled heart I will always be moving and exploring and making different countries home. And in my travels I will miss my homes. But I know I have to explore and experience the world. I need to keep learning and discovering parts of myself. And in the end of the day I know that London will always be the one. The one I come back to, the one I am my truest self in, the one that I will love most.