On the 10th of October, I packed the past three years of my life into boxes and bags, and took a 13-hour flight from the UK to Malaysia. Leaving was emotional, as if half my heart had sprouted roots, refused to leave. Then somehow as I starting unpacking, I realised just how much I had brought home with me.
I’d brought back the concrete walls of UEA and the cobblestone roads of Norwich. I’d brought back the line of ducklings in the river, the swan on the Lake, the sparkle of every firework erupting in the skies.
I’d brought back the three-legged cat, a Battlestar Gallactica Marathon, that funny moment just before a friend slipped on the ice. In my mind’s eye there is a castle upon a snowy hill, an arcade by the seaside and a country house on a landscape that stretched for miles.
Being locked in a lecture theatre when I went in to play the piano. Getting lost from following the silhouettes of too many churches. Watching the sun set and rise in the library (a beautiful and tragic scenery). A picnic in the Plantation Gardens. Smoky barbecues.
Listening to Of Monsters and Men in a corridor of the Union House. Watching plays in the drama studio. Watching musicals. The Woman in Black. Museums. Ice-skating and tobogganing. Playing Quidditch.
There are the wafts of the Wafflehouse goodies and the frothy Cromer waves. Pigs-in-a-blanket, Yorkshire puddings and mince pies. The caramelised apple of Brighton. A pancake dinner. Italian pasta in Florence. S’mores by a student accommodation. The crack of the crème brûlée the same way Amélie does in Paris. The ‘best’ fish and chips. A cup of tea (milk and two sugars, please).
I’d brought back a series of firsts. My first concert. That first time reciting my poems in an open-mic. A first Christmas dinner. London Fashion Weekend. The first time watching two friends walk down the aisle.
Seeing another issue of the student newspaper in print each fortnight. Cooking enough to feed a hundred. Mortarboards in the air. First internship, second internship, third and fourth. The dinner get-togethers. The takeaways.
A level of confidence I’d not felt before. A bigger pair of eyes and an open heart. The realisation that the world is much smaller than I last remembered it. The many, many faces.
I listed these in my head as the taxi drove me away, as I waited for the plane to take off (half an hour later than it was supposed to). Now I realised that I have carried all the memories and faces home and have no doubt that I will carry them with me wherever I go.
I can only wonder if, after three years abroad, I have left anything behind.