When It’s Time to Go, It Looks Like a Rose Garden

Regent's Canal

An extended stay can be torture when you fall in love. It can torment and tease, tantalize you and trick you. It whispers in your ear seductive, calculated nothings, a temptress singing songs of sugar and sun.

Oh, you love it here? Why, we love you, too, and we’d love for you to stay. And wouldn’t it be so easy? All those things you love, well, you can have them, they’re yours. All the time.

You want to live here, don’t you? You want to move here, so do it. Do it already. Do it. Tie up your silly loose ends back “home” — it’s not really your home — and dream about your new life here, back home. We’ll find you a cozy two-bedroom condo, or three bedrooms, if that’s what you really want, right on that little stretch of road you like so much. Where was it, Noel Road, just off the canal, ideally between 69 – 78? You can have what you want, it’ll all work out. No, no, don’t worry about the cost — don’t worry about it. These things always work themselves out. Don’t believe those cost of living fallacies; they’re rubbish.

The mornings are always crisp and cool, the evenings mild and glorious — and don’t believe what they say, for yes, the day’s fading sunlight flickers until well past 10pm year round. It also doesn’t rain as much as they say; you’ve been here for a month, and how many times has it rained? Three or four times? Every month is like that.

Everybody is nice all the time, to each other, to visitors, and especially to the older folks.

You’ll fit right in. You’ll meet interesting new friends. You’ll love it. You’ll fit right in.

And your job? You know you can work here. You know that your wife, especially, can work here; everything she needs for her work is here. It’s not there; it’s here. You know it, she knows it, all of us here know it. And you — oh, just think of the possibilities for your career. For your freelance career; for your writing career. All of your dreams — everything will fall into place here. It’ll happen here. Everything you both need is here, not there.

Here, we have everything you need. Travel? Travel is easy here, for here we sit at the world’s fulcrum. Where do you want to go? You can get there, fairly painlessly, mostly. No more 25-hour odysseys just to visit family for a few weeks every year, or for them to visit you — and oh, the cost of those journeys! Surely you won’t miss that!

Oh, but you’ll miss Asia, you say? Of course you will — and Bangkok is a direct 10-hour flight away. You can go anytime. Anytime.

And I know how much you love Amsterdam, and how you’ve dreamt about living there, too. It’s just across the channel; you can go whenever you want in no time. You don’t really want to live there anyway, do you? I know how the canals capture your heart, but you know that we have canals here, too. The weather is awful there and you’d need to become fluent in Dutch, which won’t help you anywhere but there. We all speak English here, and we’re friendlier; everybody is always friendly here.

Related: Maybe It’s Penance (for Last Night) or a Deposit (on Tonight), But Whatever It Is, It’s My Morning Run on Regent’s Canal

Craft beer? Awww, mate, we have that well covered: 50 new breweries within the city limits these past few years — just in time for your move here — and most of them more interested in American craft-style beers than with those old, boring, low-alcohol British beers for which you don’t particularly care. You already know where many of our best craft pubs are located; you’ve been to them. You’re this close to becoming a regular. The staff at some of them sort of recognizes you already; why sacrifice that budding familiarity by leaving us? Stay.

You love to run, well, you know that this cool, crisp weather is perfect for that. This month you’ve run, what, six or seven miles almost every day? Well done! And it’s been relatively easy, hasn’t it? You’re well suited to the mild temperatures here. You can run, and run, and run some more. You’ll feel so good every day, and you’ll never gain any weight here. Drink all the beer you want, you’ll never gain any weight here.

You love the grocery stores — M&S, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose, in that order, right? All within walking distance of your home on Noel Road. Mint-chocolate everything. Raspberries and strawberries and blueberries. So many freshly baked breads! The British cheeses! The sandwiches and salads and wraps ready-made meals and smoked salmon! Mint Cornetto! And, oh, the wine aisle!

How can you leave that all behind?

Quiet trains and wildly efficient public transit. Street food galore. Museums. Arts and culture. Live music (that Quicksand show was amazing, wasn’t it?). Feeling invested in the place in which you live, socially and culturally. Don’t you want that?

Pubs filled with jolly drinkers of all ages, not just those your age and younger. Countryside day trips. Bike rides on bike lanes respected by motorists. A good-times culture and a big-city vibe. You’re going to miss this far too much. Search your feelings, Brian, you know them to be true.

It’s time to go, but if you don’t come back soon, for good, it will be to your shame — to your shame. Don’t worry about the money — lord, don’t worry about that — or the trifling logistics. If you can move to New York and to Bangkok and to Singapore, you can move to London.

We’ll wait for you, on Noel Road. We’ve got it all figured out. The good life is waiting for you.

Brian Spencer is a freelance writer and editor based in Singapore; more of his work for the Perceptive Travel Blog is here.

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