I can remember the 3 times I missed the UK so much that I cried.
The first was right after watching England played against Colombia in the world cup. Leaving the bar where we watched it with a group of friends, I walked to the bus stop with tears streaming down my cheeks, and H, looking perplexed, tried his best to comfort me.
The second time was after I watched Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke. All the shots of the terraced houses, the street signs, and the pub with McCartney raising a pint of beer to the audience who stares in awe gave me nostalgia. There’s something so quintessentially British captured in most of the shots in the video; something that sent me a pang of sadness and longing for the UK. I’ve watched the video 3 more times since then, and it always reduced me to tears, without fail.
The third time was in the dark corner of the Bishop’s Arms in Järntorget, where I had my first sip of Magners in Sweden. The dim pub, the low chatters of the patrons, the occasional clinks at the bar, and that crisp taste of Magners were apparently a bit too much when I’d had a rough few weeks in Sweden. Anybody who happened to see us probably thought this was a breakup scene where the girl was taking it badly.
I’ve lived here for over a year now, and while it’s starting to feel like home, I don’t think Sweden will ever be ‘home’ the way the UK is to me. When my plane landed in Heathrow back in 2013, it felt… right. There was an excitement that was bubbling, mostly from knowing there would be many things I had yet to experience. But there was also a sense of familiarity, like the feeling of slipping into an old favorite sweater that’s been forgotten for long in the bottom of the drawer. I was struggling to find the perfect word to describe this until I remember my favorite German word: gemütlichkeit. It’s the perfect sum up of my feelings for the UK – there’s the warmth, the coziness, the comfort, the sense of belonging. The UK has always felt like that, right from the beginning.
But more than that, perhaps it felt like home because it was the place where for the first time in my life, I discovered my true self. It was the place where I was unapologetically me, simply because nobody judged me. There weren’t any religious nor societal restrictions imposed on me. It was liberating. It was relieving.
And then, I got the chance to travel around the country. To London, Edinburgh, York, Bath, Winchester. To Dorset, Cornwall, Elan Valley, the Cotswolds, and Brecon. There are many places that I’ve been to, with many more to see. And I’m yearning to see them.
I miss all these beautiful places and views. The rolling hills of Wales with sheeps grazing on them, the thatched roofs of cottages lining the narrow lanes in Dorset, the old churches and cathedrals, and the moors and countrysides that inspired all the literary works by the likes of Emily Brontë and Jane Austen.
Above all, I miss the everyday things.
I miss the Sunday long walk followed by lunch at the pub: always the comforting roast with a pint of cider. I miss the familiarity of Sainsbury’s (or any supermarket there, really), with its perfect rectangular shape and sensible layout that saved me so much time when I do groceries (I have yet to find a supermarket in Sweden with a sensible and intuitive layout). I miss the freshly baked pasties at Greggs, with an aroma so tantalizing that you couldn’t not stop and go in when you walk by. I miss overhearing the self-deprecating humor and playful banters, and even the (sometimes) frustrating politeness.
This summer couldn’t come fast enough. I’m counting the days until I get there after 13 months of being away. And you can bet I’ll bring an empty suitcase to stock up on all my favorite snacks I can’t find in Sweden (Mini Cheddars, anyone?), find the nearest Greggs ASAP to get a bacon and cheese wrap, and find a pub with a proper pint of drink.
It will be like a homecoming.