It is very weird to return to a place you have once lived. I studied abroad in Manchester for 6 months and in those 6 months I gathered as many routes, friends, experiences, and cake eating times as those of full time students. It was nowhere near perfect, but it was great. I’m not sure if I loved being in Manchester or the idea that I was in Manchester… It was just love all the same.
Now I’m back a little under two years later, to say it’s surreal is an understatement. I’m not sure what I was expecting but perhaps a bit of déjà vu, a bit of I did this already, but honestly my experiences this time don’t mirror the ones I had last time at all. I’m different, I’m around some old friends, some are newer, but regardless they are sharing different sides of themselves with me. In many ways it’s just about learning a place all over again, but I’m not learning about a new place, it’s like I’m learning about home. I’m immediately thrown into favorite places, restaurants I still haven’t been to, and tons of familiar faces.
I guess the process of returning, whether going back to school after being abroad, or returning home after being away, or now coming back to Manchester allows me to better judge sameness and differences. I do still remember the areas of this city and this culture that got me a bit down. Even though I remember them, I suppose they don’t affect me in the same way. When I return to a place after being away for a while it’s striking how the environment reflects pieces of myself. I can see the ways I am the same, and all the ways I have changed. This place holds my memories, this place has become a mirror of my history, every time I return I continue the narrative.
Part of that narrative was eating a lot of cake.It was a large part of my Mancunian diet. And now I am searching for all the slices I missed. I had one today and it was great, a really gingery slice of dark cake with creamy white frosting from Nexxus Cafe. And after I had the worst sugar-filled stomachache and realized I’ll have to put my cake obsession on break for a bit. This time in Manchester isn’t so café/ cake-filled, and that is perfectly alright.