I’m sorry it has taken me so long to realise that I do, in fact, love you.
Things did start out pretty rough, I’m not going to lie. I had no place to live, you were crawling with students fighting tooth and nail for every available flat. I was mad at myself for messing up, and you just happened to be there.
This was already a weird year for me – a transition. Three hundred and sixty-five days of feeling caught between the familiar and ~adulthood~. From the very start it was “I’m only here for a year”. I won’t buy that rice cooker. I’m only here for a year. I won’t buy new picture frames. I don’t need a bookshelf. It lurked at the back of my head, influencing every decision I made. And I think it kept me from opening up to you. What was the point of falling for you? I was only here for a year. It would simply make things harder.
I was still coming to terms with losing my last home. I had never lost a place like that before. I had never really moved out of a home before. I couldn’t expect you to live up to the memories, the community, and that feeling of everything falling into place. It was only a year.
But time, and several train rides, passed, and I no longer felt that sense of loss. I miss Durham still, but the Durham I had is not there anymore. It’s tied to the people I knew, not the river or the castle or my first flat. I didn’t need it anymore. I had no anchor. I was lost.
All that trouble in the first few months left me one step behind. It seemed I was playing catch up with everything else. I hadn’t connected with the people I was surrounded by. I blinked and suddenly everyone seemed farther away. I was still an outsider looking in, and that feeling of not belonging spilled over into you. I can’t blame you for you long, dark winter nights. I would find it hard to be bright for someone who refused to see what I was offering to them.
But things change. Your mess of streets became a well-worn network connecting my favorite cafes, my library, and my home. You took your time. The bright lights and warm cider of the Christmas market. The way the skies burned at sunset. The familiar pat-pat-pat of rain pelting my umbrella. The way the wind always knew how to blow in the exact wrong direction (I suppose I did deserve that last one).
The days grew longer. Daffodils bloomed along my path to class. I bought a picnic blanket. I spent sunny days camped out in the Meadows pretending to do work and spying on the people with the tight ropes and hula-hoops. I made new friends. We went to pub quiz. I found a chip shop for late night cheesy chips. I still felt like an outsider, but at least I made it in through the door. It took me a while, Edinburgh, but I began to actually see you.
You are a city with a story. Home to witches and warlocks, great thinkers and loyal doggos. Cramped alleyways weave between stone buildings, each close held a new secret courtyard to find. You’re a city of many layers, physically and metaphorically. And your inhabitants know how to have a good time. There is no other city on earth like you.
I miss you, Edinburgh. I can’t help but think that one day I will return and find you changed, a different city than the one I left. But thanks to you, that doesn’t scare me anymore.
It was only a year, but a year was all it took.