For months now I've been pondering the dilemma of where to put down roots. London has been 'home' for the last three years, but has never really felt like home to me. I moved here in February 2011 and always said I would stay in the city for 18 months before deciding where I wanted to live.
How time flies; suddenly it's three years later and around about the same time of year it was when I arrived in the city. Friends are telling me they're moving away to other parts of the country - one has already gone to Berlin, another due to leave for Oxford soon - and my dilemma is compounded by my job. Now that I'm not tied to one location by my work - one of the positives of freelancing is that I can (theoretically) work from anywhere with an internet connection - I should be able to choose where I want to live.
I lived in Edinburgh for four years before moving south and on a recent trip back to Auld Reekie to visit friends, I found myself falling in love with the city once again. Streets seemed all at once strange and familiar. There's none of the smog and ugly high-rise industrial buildings you'll find in crowded, congested central London. Gothic skyscrapers from bygone eras mingle with Georgian architecture and quaint cobbled wynds and closes create a magical atmosphere. Strolling down the Royal Mile was what really made me feel at home - a soundtrack of bagpipes, cosy pubs and tea rooms and of course the inevitable (once annoying) throngs of tourists in their brightly coloured macs.
When I arrived back in London, I was instantly struck by the grey dreariness of the city, of the expressions (or should that be lack of expression) on people's faces as they rushed to their destinations, paying no heed to their surroundings or other people. Sometimes it feels like the city is soulless and the sheer size of it is a bit much to comprehend. But I wondered at the time if maybe this was one of those moments where the grass is always greener?
Yet several months on, and I'm still daydreaming of Edinburgh; of Mimi's Bakehouse on the Shore, Mum's Comfort Food (it will always be Monster Mash to me), the Gothic spaceship and the hustle and bustle of Princes Street, with Edinburgh Castle looking down over the city. I feel at home there as much as I have ever felt at home anywhere, and sometimes being in London leaves me feeling like a foreigner - totally out of kilter with my surroundings and the people around me.
I've set myself a deadline for making a decision, but this could prove to be the kind of deadline that is flexible, as I'm known to procrastinate over any major decisions. It feels as if this is the year for making big decisions though, and I'm determined to make the most of the first few months of the year to push forward towards new horizons!