I rush down Shoreditch Highstreet in excitement. Or ”rush” as in still having time to stop and snap a photo of this spring.
In the Hoxton Station arches I pop by the Swedish bakery Fabrique to pick up some cinnamon buns and then I run, happy as an idiot to my date that I’ve waited almost a year for. It’s with two tiny girls named Chloe and Sophie, just short of four and five years old that I used to nanny. Spending time with them several days a week was what got me somewhat on my feet and I’ve missed them.
I’m finally standing outside their house and ring their doorbell. My heart almost stops. Being back here makes me doubt whether I ever left. My palms feel sticky and my breath short when the mum opens the door, looks at me and gives me a long hug. Inside the girls are hiding under the table and don’t run to greet me. I feel unsure wheteher they even remember me? A year in a 3 year old’s life must be an eternity. But I kneel down and then they charge at me like the wildlings they are. Old people tend to say that kids are almost unrecognisable after not having seen them for a year. But to me my girls look exactly the same and god I’m happy about that.
We spend the afternoon hours out in the garden, playing, climbing and telling stories. I show them photos of my house and they are so confused. Why can’t you come back tomorrow again? Why don’t you live here? Their mum shows me a video they’ve recorded to me for Christmas. They are standing with tiny toy instruments screaming angrily at me for not being there with them but then following up with singing some tune from Frozen.
When I leave I’m exhausted, grateful and sad. That people so tiny can save somebody so much older from drowning.
Daniel is waiting when I get home. I can’t wait to tell him all about the girls and show him the portrait Sophie scribbled together where she spelled everything mirrored.
We take the bus and I’m quiet for most of the way, wondering what my life would’ve been if I had stayed in London and not moved to Stockholm. Not that I regret doing so, but I do miss it here.
The whole world is glowing amber when our bus crosses the Thames. We get out and I stand by the edge of the bridge, quietly observing the city skyline. It’s my favourite spot in London, and I used to come here when the city felt too heavy for my life.
Daniel grabs my hand and leads me towards the London Bridge station and we board the train because we have another date!
It’s Alex and V who’s invited us to their brand new, all white glamorous pad in Greenwich filled with everything that could possibly make me jealous. Alright they don’t have a dog, but pretty much everything else. It’s my turn to walk around all the rooms feeling like I’m role playing in the life of a cool adult.
Alex cooks carbonara for us and we drink prosecco and play loud music and talk about everything stupid and interesting. They are probably my favourite couple in the world. Daniel used to live with them when we first started seeing each other. They were there to witness my first walk of shame, our first dinner date and everything else.
It’s deep into the night, having had loud conversations for hours, when we catch a taxi back to Clapton. I lean on Daniel’s shoulder as the highway lights flicker past us one by one. Mondays should always feel like this. Self employment life, please be mine!