wherever i lay my hat…

It’s been little over 12 hours since I’ve been back in the UK. I arrived with mixed emotions. Having been stood up at the airport by someone who shall remain nameless, I was greeted by, well, no-one. Instead of a familiar face and a warm embrace i was met by a typically abrasive hub of British activity, a bustling airport terminal, with no phone and so tired I was ready to steal 40 winks at the first available opportunity. I felt crushed: a day and a half earlier earlier I’d been savouring my last balmy night in BA in good company, a lazy zig-zag cross-city cycle, followed by a quintessentially Porteño supper, midnight empanadas and crisp Quilmes. Suddenly, by contrast, I was standing alone on home turf for the first time in a year, the longest time I’d been away, tears pricking my eyes and an overwhelming sense of detachment and alienation taking hold. Only it didn’t feel like home anymore. Like I’d been in hibernation somehow or existing in a parallel universe, which suddenly felt a dreadfully long way away. The wan, washed out sky and dampness and cold that cut to my bones did little to temper the emotional blow. A few calls to friends and loved ones began to redress the balance however. I braced myself for the draughty descent to the underground platform, en route to see my best friend of 13 years and the perfect antidote to the lukewarm feelings I was having about being here.

I exited the station and spotted her on the adjacent pavement, our mutual excitement and euphoria was palpable. We greeted each other with whoops of joy and bone crunching bear hugs in the middle of busy Wimbledon Park Road, with little regard for the oncoming traffic. She took me back to her cosy flat, where I was given my belated 30th birthday presents and fed a stodgy British comfort food feast, more cuddles and some much needed optimism.

But on reflection, I realise that my initial tearfulness and feelings of disassociation are part of a kind of mourning process. This trip will be cathartic, a tying up of loose ends. I feel like I’ve left my buena onda or ‘good wave’ back in BA. That old adage of ‘home is where the heart is’ has never rung more true. It’s a place where I feel completely liberated and at ease. But realising this is OK, it merely highlights the fact that England (which I’ve regarded as home for 30 years) has lost its sheen. Yet for the 3 weeks I’m here I fully intend to enjoy myself: to eat, drink and be merry to excess, to catch up with friends and embrace and reacquaint myself with my Britishness and the place I was brought up. I’ll return to BA with a renewed sense of conviction and joie de vivre, and that can only be a good thing.


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