I will miss you. It wasn’t love at first sight, but love did overtake me. My affection for you grew as I got to know you more…got to know your hills, curves and edges. I have felt the warm welcome from your people on the street, in the shop, at church and from my neighbour next door. How could I not love you back when you smile and say, “Morning love, how are you today?” or “Morning love, how can I help you?”.
When we first met, I was just the journey-student hopping from university city to university city. To me you were just another of those university cities where I was to live and complete my PhD. I couldn’t have foreseen that leaving would be so hard. Even from those early days, I heard the stories of those who just came to study and somehow never managed to leave you. You are the city that doesn’t let go easily because you love and are loved in return.
Sheffield, you’ve loved me and my family by surrounding us with incredible people who became our extended family. You gave us a community whether at the BBQ party in our garden, the table tennis games, the walks in the Peak District, spur of the moment meeting in Ruskin Park, the Walkley Christmas Party and the mundane fact of knowing and being known by familiar faces in a crowd. You’ve given us friendships that should stand the test of time and distance. We are glad to have had our daughter’s first birthday celebration here and to have had two boys born here as well. These are, we hope, ties that binds us to you even when we are apart.
It feels surreal to think that from today, as the train rolls along through the lovely valleys of the Peak District to the airport, I am no longer your resident. I am making this journey with the dawning realisation that the next time I see you again, I will be your visitor. There will still be love but it will be a changed love – from resident to guest, from the certainty of ‘see-you-tomorrow’ to the tentativeness of ‘hope-to-see-you-in-the-future’. I am not in denial that the end is here…or am I? I know that I am have not been thinking much, that I have just been going through the motions and doing the needful and necessary – packing boxes, cleaning the house, booking train tickets, booking flight tickets, preparing handover notes at work and doing the everyday things until the last moment.
I afforded myself no idle time or room for melancholy while I was with you. Now that the adrenaline rush is over, words fail me. This is a short note of love, Sheffield. I will send you a longer note when I begin to fully reflect on the time we’ve shared over the past 6 years. I think there is something in my eyes…are my eyes watering…? You will be missed Sheffield. Thank you for loving me and letting me love you. This is not goodbye, I know we will meet again…