This weekend marked my two year anniversary of living in the city. 732 days ago I packed up all of my worldly possessions into a Ford Transit van and drove all the way up the M1 in the driving rain to start a new life here in Leeds.
And at first, I hated it. I hated living in a city and not understanding the buses. I hated not having any friends of my own. I hated not having a job. I was utterly miserable. So many times I thought about packing my bags and coming home - even though, now I look back, I probably wouldn't have been much happier at home. I had just graduated, and I was experiencing major graduate drop. Sorry new graduates, it's real and you will be feeling the pain soon. The last few weeks of Uni are a blur of barbecues, parties, cocktails, Pimms in the courtyard, pub gardens and endless good times with old friends. It was a massive downer to come to Leeds and feel like my whole life was contained in the four walls of our bedroom. I would pick fights with Paul, spend half my time crying and plotting an escape plan. Wondering if I had made a massive mistake. No doubt, I was a nightmare to be around, so I'm very grateful that Paul didn't just pack me a suitcase and drop me off at the train station.
But, slowly, things started to get better. I got a job and started to meet new people. I started to feel a proper part of our little friendship group. I started my course (the real reason why I came to Leeds in the first place) and I loved it. We started exploring more of the city, and I began to follow a bunch of people from Leeds on Twitter, so I could find out about events that were going on. I've always wondered how long somewhere takes to go from house to home, and I think it might be around the 18 month mark. That seems like a long time, but it was around that time that I really began to love Uni, and the same for when I moved to Leeds. First I was unhappy, then I was tolerating living here, and now I am content. I track my love of Leeds in opposition to my desire to escape to London; I started off making plans for when we would move there, and now I can't see that happening any time soon.
When I began fully throwing myself into this city and all it has to offer, I was amazed. I have lived my whole life in small towns, where everyone knows everyone else. Places where you have to get a train or a bus and leave if you want to go to the pub, or go shopping, or go to work. Leeds is so big in comparison. I can walk from my house to a myriad of shops, bars, and restaurants. Events are happening all the time. There's so much to do, see and experience all the time. I know I wax lyrical about Leeds, but I really am passionate about this city and about the people who live here - who are trying to make Leeds, and the world, a better place. It's not perfect, but is anywhere?
I don't know if I want to live here forever. I feel happy and at home here, and it would be so easy to get complacent and stay. I'm torn, because a part of me wants to be that carefree person that moves their whole life to a new city, or even a new country (Vancouver is the current favourite). But, the other part is a home bird, and the thought of pulling up these sapling roots and shifting my life somewhere else, waiting another 18 months to feel like it's home, is too scary. We shall see, it's not an option for now - we'll be here for a while, and I'm looking forward to falling even more in love with Leeds.
Which is something that I've never thought I'd say!