Six months in Leeds

Six months have passed since I landed at Heathrow with more luggage than I’ve ever lugged anywhere. I’ll never forget the moment I pushed the trolly through the arrivals gate and there was Jeff – a week further along in his English adventure than me.

I celebrated my six month anniversary in a fitting way – two of my wonderful co-workers from my temp job joined me at a monthly cheese club, and afterward we popped into the pub where Jeff was taking part in a jazz jam so they could meet him. I thought it was a small turning point – the first time my work life, social life and Jeff’s music life intersected.

Coincidentally, the pub that holds the cheese night is two doors down from the short-term flat rental Jeff and I stayed in for my first week in Leeds. I hadn’t been to that part of the city in weeks and it was fun to remember how strange it was to walk around and think  “Holy shit – I LIVE here now”.

Six months in seems like a good time to take stock. Have I changed or am I still the same me in a different place?

  1. My accent is still the same, even though it’s the question I get most often from back home. And no, it isn’t a cliché, one of my trusted friends here assures me that yes, I do say “oot” and “aboot” instead of “out” and “about”. How I Met Your Mother and every other piece of pop culture making fun of us is right! We Canadians just can’t seem to hear it.
  2. I have a hard time saying words like “telly”, “cuppa” and “cheers” because I’m concerned I sound like a twat trying to sound English. And oh god, I still can’t get the hang of “Alright?” as a greeting.
  3. I’m living in leggings and jeggings and now normal jeans that aren’t super skinny jeans just look weird to me. I shouldn’t have let one upsetting peep in the 3-way mirror at GAP convince me that I couldn’t pull them off.
  4. Emotionally, I do feel stronger and more confident. I’ve always been a fan of my own company and, both in Toronto and here in Leeds, I choose it over people who don’t make me feel great about myself. No, I don’t mean I need to be showered with compliments, more just that if I come home happy and elated about who I’ve hung out with, rather than feeling uncool and/or uncertain that the other person liked me, it’s some food for thought about whether I want to seek out their company in future. Oh, and patronising insults are an instant way to make sure I “lose” your contact information.
  5. I’m not walking as much as I did in Toronto – everything is much closer together! Where I was routinely walking at least four kilometres a day in Toronto – one km walk to the subway station, another 900 metres from the subway station to my office, long walks at lunchtime, and then the return journey home, let’s just say that I am going to have to really press on those friends who’ve promised me long walks on the dales and moors of Yorkshire to get back into walking shape. Or stop eating anything sweet.
  6. I still get a kick out of living somewhere where I don’t know almost everything about it the way I did in Toronto and southern Ontario in general. I genuinely don’t know where things are, whether it’s the geography of Yorkshire or finding neat little shops and cafés. There’s always something new around the corner for me here.
  7. We still don’t know what we’re going to do once Jeff is finished his program in September, so I’ve had to make peace with the fact that life will be up in the air and unsettled for months to come. Will we be able to stay in Leeds? Will we be somewhere else in the UK? Will we return home? As a planner and a do-er, this is new territory for me and I’ve had to get comfortable with the not-knowing. So I’m trying to make sure I experience everything that living in this part of England has to offer and try to live in the moment more often.
  8. I miss how grounded our house in Toronto made me feel – our framed photos of people and places, furniture and home stuff acquired over time, shelves full of books and little objects. Whenever I’m in someone’s house that has that lived-in quality I envy it a little. Which is odd because I found the exercise of reducing our belongings and keeping the essentials incredibly exhilarating at the time. Let’s just say that the FBI Safehouse Chic look is wearing a little thin. And I should have chosen a sofa long enough to stretch out for proper naps. What are love seats good for anyway?


My mother-in-law took this stunning photo of Haworth – Brontë country

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