If you’ve read this blog before, you probably know I had a hard time saying goodbye to Edinburgh when my UK visa expired in 2017. I waffled on about it a lot around here (this post, this post, AND this post are a few examples of said waffling). Last year, I went back to the city twice: once in January for a few weeks, and again in May for several months. This post is a bit of a recap of my final stint in Edinburgh — and I suppose it’s also the final installment in my (unintentional) series of posts where I whine about leaving Edinburgh. And it only took me two years to get here! That’s totally normal, right?
This concept has been on my mind for the better part of the last year. And then Edna wrote this post in November about returning to a city you love and chasing ghosts, and it felt like she plucked the words from the deepest recesses of my thoughts — especially this bit:
“What did I have to show for my years of experiences as A Traveler if all I did in the end was fly in one big circle, making continuous left turns until I arrived right back where I started — confused, alone, and chasing ghosts in Paris?”
That’s exactly how I felt when I went back to Edinburgh last year.
Except I wasn’t just chasing ghosts — I was chasing my old life, a life I adored and wasn’t ready to leave when my Youth Mobility Scheme visa expired in 2017.
Read More: When Everything Comes Together, Then Falls Apart: Why I’m Leaving Edinburgh
To a certain extent, I did go back to that life last year; slipping into my old routine was easy as ever. But eventually, a niggling thought surfaced in the back of my mind: what am I doing here again?
All my favourite spots were still here. All my favourite people were still here. Only they’d moved on. And here I was, nearly one year to the day I left Edinburgh, sleeping in my friend’s spare bedroom again. Dragging my life around in a suitcase again.
Was this even what I really wanted?
When I left Edinburgh two years ago, I was still tied to the city for several reasons — one of them being a certain someone. Because of that, I think a part of me knew I’d return.
Last September, however, I came to the realization that I was leaving for good.
Saying goodbye to Edinburgh for the second time was immense heartbreak all over again, but with it came something I didn’t have when I left in 2017: a sense of closure.
My Edinburgh chapter had ended, and it was okay. I was okay.
As difficult as it was, I needed to go back to Edinburgh last year. I needed to face a tough situation, had to admit to the fact that I wasn’t meant to stay in the city. I needed to finally, finally relinquish control and accept and surrender to the situation.
What Edinburgh taught me (the first time around) is that I’m happiest when I have a sense of community, stability, and fulfillment in my work, along with the ability to travel often.
So I guess that means I can find all of those things — I can find contentment — in another city. A city that’s not Edinburgh.
Don’t get me wrong, I still miss that city fiercely. I still get an ache in the pit of my stomach when I see a photo of it, still feel a pang of longing and nostalgia and homesickness all at once.
I never expected the hardest part of living in Edinburgh would be saying goodbye.
Read More: On Leaving Edinburgh and Life Lately
Although it’s been a long (a very loooong) time coming, I finally feel ready to say: it’s time to close the Edinburgh chapter.
Last week I accepted a job offer with an amazing company in a new city. It’s not the life I planned; not the job, not the city, not the timing.
It’s funny: when you stop clinging to the past, when you loosen your death grip on the direction of your life, things suddenly start to fall into place.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell
My Edinburgh chapter has ended, but you best believe I’ll still be rambling on about the city on this blog (it is my favourite place in the world, after all), and you can expect to see lots of Edinburgh-related content around these parts in the future!
Can you relate at all? Are you struggling to close a chapter in your life? Please tell me someone else knows what it’s like to feel this way about a city two years after leaving?!
I’m traveling to Edinburgh in 2020 — it’s booked and paid for and I’m doing it because of all the lovely things you had to say about this city. I know I don’t really know you but from your posts, I could tell how difficult it was to say goodbye. Hopefully, this new job and living in a new city will bring you a new sense of fulfillment and excitement! 🙂
Aw thank you so much, Christina! That’s so sweet of you to say, and this comment just made my day! 🙂 I’m also SO happy to hear you’ve got a trip booked to Edinburgh next year! I hope you have an amazing time there, and shoot me an email if you’re looking for more recommendations or whatever!
Oh man, this post sounds like you were in MY brain! I can totally, totally relate and can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings for you. Congrats and bon courage, and hope our paths cross again somewhere!
Aw thanks so much, Edna — appreciate your kind words! Definitely hoping we can catch up in the near future 🙂
I’m glad you’re okay! I hope the new job in the new city is going swimmingly.
Thanks so much, LC! I am loving the new job and city so far! And I hope all is well on your end 🙂
I’m glad you got your closure 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your blog xxx
Sara Iamonte recently posted…Parc de Cervantes Barcelona
Thank you kindly, Sara 🙂 Appreciate you taking the time to read more of my blog!
I luckily live only a 2 hour train ride away from Edinburgh and tend to visit the city for a break every couple of months. The first time I ever visited Edinburgh, I had the feeling I’d lived a previous life here, hence the reason I continue to return.
It feels like a second home and although I have lost count of the time I’ve been, I still get an emotional feeling when it’s time to leave.
When the time is right, you’ll return Ashley. There is always something that brings you back to Edinburgh.
Ah I know how you feel — I always joke that I must have lived a past life in Edinburgh as well. Thank you for your kind words, Mathew — I appreciate that!
Hey Ashley, great post, thanks! I don’t quite understand what you mean by “What Edinburgh taught me (the first time around) is that I’m happiest when I have a sense of community, stability, and fulfillment in my work, along with the ability to travel often.
So I guess that means I can find all of those things — I can find contentment — in another city. A city that’s not Edinburgh.”
Is that because Edinburgh doesn’t offer that sense of community, stability, etc? Or because it’s a little remote and thus not well connected travel-wise? Sorry, just trying to understand – I am considering relocating there myself hence my curiosity! Thanks, Sara
Hey Sara, I was trying to figure out how I could find that same feeling of contentment in another location since I couldn’t stay in Edinburgh. Though I love Edinburgh as a city, I also had all the things I listed above while I was there: a sense of community, stability, fulfillment in my work, and the ability to travel often – which was a big part of the reason it was so difficult to leave.