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London

“You may wander the world over, but it is home that you return to.“

I had been in London for about 4 days and although I wasn’t there to shop, I couldn’t resist entering The Moomins store, when I walked by it. I use to watch this show with my mother, when I was a child, and I remember it was one of the only shows she was actually really watching -without finding a reason to excuse herself and go do something else. I will be real, I did not remember what this show was about. I actually just remember it was kind of too slow-paced for my taste, at the time. I was watching it because mom was watching it. And i needed so desperately to bound with her, one way or the other. She always joked that I was like the 'little-My' character, and I always felt happy that she found I was similar to a character she liked. As the years passed, I never watched it back, but I always remembered it meant something special to her. Holding the little red wallet (her favorite color) with a small golden little-My embedded next to the opening, I thought to myself that it was gonna be the perfect gift. But, surrounded with all the heartbroken quotes I didn’t remember, I suddenly realized that although equally inspiring, this show was also terribly sad.. and yet, it had probably a huge part in building who I am today. I mean, just go read little-My’s description. Was it a coincidence, that my mom loved it so much? Or was it that deep down she felt as sad, unseen and lonely as the characters of the story?

I never had a bad relationship with my parents. I love both of them dearly and I know they love me too. They were always supportive of my dreams and aspirations, and they raised me to believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. But, like in every family, I assume, some things always just felt a bit off. Particularly with my mom. Starting with the fact that we never even had one single dinner alone, the two of us. Never one deep discussion that would be about her. I asked her several times, over the years, to share more about her past, her dreams, anything really -but she never wanted to. 


I know my mom had a very rough past. She grew up in a household with an alchoolic dad, an avoiding mom, a depressed younger sister and an older brother who ended up killing a woman, years later. They were incredibly poor and she worked her ass off to build herself up, leave the toxicity of her family, find a good man and never give anything but the best two their two children. My sister and I were incredibly lucky to have them both as parents, but even as we became adults, we were never able to get a real and deep conversation about her story. And as the years went by, we just stopped asking. I know this is not about me, but it always made me incredibly sad to think that she didn’t feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with her own daughters. I felt like somehow, I was failing at being there for her.


A few years back, when my mom asked me what I wanted as a gift for Christmas, I decided to take a last chance. I told her that I would love for us to go do a high tea. She loves tea. She told me she would think about it- and two weeks later told me that she would rather not. I honestly felt devasteted. It is hard wanting to connect with the person that should love you unconditionally, and facing a wall every time you try to. Maybe she felt like in general I ask too many questions and that she would get stuck in a situation where I ask her about her past and she wouldn’t be able to use usual excuses like “I need to go empty the dishwasher” to escape the conversation. Maybe she doesn’t want to talk about it because it will open a pandora-box of bad memories. I don’t know, and I don’t think I will ever know. The only thing I know is that, even if it is not about me or about the fact she doesn’t love me, it has affected some part of who I am. Constantly feeling like your parents are in a hurry to leave or to stop a phone call, that they can’t even sit to watch a full movie with you when you go visit them for a night.. it does take a lot to distance yourself from the situation and repeat that this. isn’t. about. you. 


After exchanging a bit with Marc about his relationship with his mom, I ended up the night reading about the Moomin's themes and meanings. Most of the stories were about loneliness, the feeling to be left out and finding one’s place in the world. All of the characters were grappling with loneliness due to a lack of meaningful relationships, leading them to embark on adventures and engage in extraordinary activities in a quest to connect with others. cough, cough 


I felt asleep questioning if my somewhat-superficial relationship with my mom had anything to do with my thirst for adventures but I wake-up without any real clarity. I was almost done with my 6 days in London with Marc and I could feel the urge to be alone building within myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marc and was once again so happy to see him, but travelling alone was fulfilling something in me that travelling with someone wasn’t able to. If deep-down my thirst for adventures was really to fulfill a need for meaningful connections, wouldn’t I want to always be with other people? Why was I so keen to be alone? 


Marc and I spent our final day together exploring London and finished with a high tea above the clouds -ironically reminding me again of my failed attempt to connect more deeply with my mom. The thought was quickly washed away by the great conversations and before I realize we were finishing a brunch in Paddington, the next morning, saying our goodbyes and promising each-other that we would catchup more often from now on. After leaving my luggage in my hotel, I walked for hours in soho and around the thames river. I wasn't in love with this city at all, but I wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly why.


At night, I met with Pat, an ex-coworker, for dinner and drinks in a sketchy looking part of town. We laughed about it -amongst many other things, and it was great to share a moment with another familiar face. We talked about relationships or just not being ready for any, and playfully analyzed each-others while we shared stories from the past and present. I would have loved to stay longer with Pat, but after challenging myself to be sober for 6 months, it didn’t took a lot for me to be real tipsy, real fast. I didn’t like the drunk version of myself, bluntly put -i found this version to be somewhat of a hoe- so, I decided to respectfully cut the night short and took the train back to my hotel. I felt asleep thinking about where I used to be when I first met Pat and took a minute to pat myself in the back for all the changes I made since. It was some rock and roll few years and it always throw me a bit off to hear stories about me, from that time- it almost feel like an out-of-body experience. I guess, have you really grown if you aren’t embarassed by some of your past actions?


The next day, I took a double decker bus to Paddington and walked from little venice to Notting Hill, where I passed the whole day wandering the colored streets and lively open-air market. I don’t know if it was me getting back to my solo-travel mood, but I felt my love for travelling hitting me like a ton of bricks. I passed the afternoon doing activities like cookie decorating and a ghost walk of Jack the Ripper in WhiteChapel. I went back to bed for my last night in London, feeling like it was actually my real first day of the trip.  




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