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Leaving the City – The First Time

At the age of 6, I boarded my very first flight in Tokyo with mum and my little brother. We were headed to London where dad had gone across on his own 6 months earlier.  I don’t remember much about this trip, other than the damp cold London air that hit my face as I looked out of the car window. It was either dawn or dusk, I didn’t really know, but London was covered in thick fog, just like in books that I had been shown before leaving Japan.

Summer “Matsuri” in Japan, a few months before taking my first flight

I had absolutely no sense of having left Japan, but I did know that I’d arrived in this New Place called London.

Fast forward a few (many) years plus hundreds of flights, and the 6-year old from Japan is still very much present. I still get pretty much the same feeling whenever I step out of a plane, or a long-distance bus. I’ve arrived! I’m Here! Wherever that may happen to be. And I just love this feeling.

Leaving Bucaramanga, off to Santa Marta, Colombia, Leaving The City
Leaving Bucaramanga, off to Santa Marta, Colombia

Stating the obvious, but arriving somewhere means you have left somewhere else. To greater and lesser degrees, I have done a lot of leaving and arriving.

Growing up, we packed up and left every 5 years or so, every time moving between the UK and Japan, leaving one school, starting in another (culture shock guaranteed even for a child). Big moves each time, but when you have no say in the matter, you don’t really think about it and you just go along with it. Well, you just adapt and survive. Leaving was easy then- when it’s not up to you.

Arriving in Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Arriving in Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

During the course of the last 17 years working in the City, I have left several banks to move on to another. This was standard practice in banking, especially back in the day when junior bankers were almost expected to leave every 2 to 3 years, in search of promotions and hikes in salaries. Leaving meant going on to better things. I was striving to get to the place I felt was where I wanted to get to in my career, and I worked damn hard for it too.

I arrived in that place a few years ago. I’m a director in a bank, I get paid OK, and I’m fairly good at what I do. The work is not terrible, it’s certainly not boring, but where do I go from here?

Now, what?

I’ve continued to feed my Arriving addiction by going traveling to increasingly adventurous destinations.  I’ve been to some amazing places and eaten a whole array of weird and wonderful food, some of which I have come to love. But most of all, it’s the people I meet that make it so special. It makes arriving after 12 hours in Economy worthwhile.

I love all of this, and I know that I’m very fortunate to be able to travel freely. But I’m not really Arriving anymore by going on short trips or long holidays. To truly Arrive, I need to Leave.

When I first Arrived, I don’t even remember Leaving. Not so easy now, when you’ve spent almost all your adult life building up a career for yourself. I know I’m not the only one here.

I don’t know when my next Big Leave will be or where my next real destination is (watch this space), but in the meanwhile I want to share my journey with you, as I try to leave The City as often as I can in search of adventure.


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