On Monday I received a phone call I had been waiting seven months for. Laura was in London.
Laura and I went to school together, but didn't really spend a lot of time hanging out until last year, when we discovered a mutual love of day drinking. And although inappropriate alcohol consumption seems a poor grounding for any kind of relationship I now consider Laura one of my closest friends, thanks primarily to the $3 drinks at Bar Century and an excess of free time. I mean, we do actually have a lot in common so that probably helped. But mostly it was the drinking.
It was incredible to see her again. She was staying in Camden, so on Wednesday I took half a day off work and went up there to meet her. Isabel came too, making Laura the one person to have infiltrated each and every one of my friendship groups. We spent the first part of the day trawling the markets, but once Isabel had to leave we got down to business.
I knew seeing Laura would be a slightly bittersweet occasion. She is basically the embodiment of everything I left behind, and seeing an old friend is so different from seeing the various family members who have come over while I've been here. Inevitably we talked about the various people we knew back home and reminisced about the past, but over the several hours we spent together we also spoke a lot about our future plans. And I have to admit it was reassuring. When Laura arrived I was super excited, but also slightly nervous. It's been so long since I've seen any of my Australian friends that I wasn't sure how things might have changed.
Once the pubs had closed and we'd run out of vodka I decided it was time to go home. And despite reassurances of her return in August ("there are heaps of times even at home when we wouldn't see each other for a month") leaving was difficult.
But not as difficult as I'd anticipated. Leaving Australia was the hardest thing I've ever done. I remember sitting on the plane, feeling totally along and realising that two and a half years is a really long time. I had no friends, no safety net and no way of knowing whether I was making a huge mistake, so I wanted to cling to everything I was leaving behind. Now all those concerns have become non-issues. London feels like home now too, and the friendships I've made here are no less valid just because they're newer. And, most importantly, I don't want to go home. Seeing Laura made me very happy, and August will be a blast, but it didn't make me miss home at all. If anything it made me feel more at home here. Besides, I'm only ever a (painfully long) plane ride away.