Back in 2007 I met who I thought was the love of my life. He was handsome, charming, funny and spontaneous but unfortunately (I didn't find out until much later), he was also a cheat, an alcoholic, and exhibiting some very obvious sociopathic traits. He also happened to be from Birmingham.
I moved my entire world from my beloved Wales where all my family and friends were, to come and live in the Midlands with him. Looking back I made that decision far too quickly, but something just pulled me here. I can't really explain it because it wasn't even him, it was the city.
Many of you might be wondering why, I mean it's not exactly New York or Barcelona, but there was just something about Brum that I fell in love with, and it absolutely captivated me. Coming from a relatively small town in South Wales to a bustling metropolitan city thrilled me. Add in to that the romantic element of travelling up each week by train, and meeting him in a packed station where we would lock eyes in a sea of people before falling into a passionate embrace, and I became giddy with love and exhilaration. It was all just so poetic.
That summer was unforgettable. We would spend hours just walking around the city (mostly bars), ate in the best restaurants, spent lazy summer days in Cannon Hill Park, and danced the night away in the coolest clubs in Digbeth. Nights were mostly spent drinking red wine and hearing UB40 being played in the pub opposite.
I fell in love with the people (who have their very own style of comedy), and pretty quickly began to pick up a bit of the Brummy twang (it's infectious). I still don't call my mother 'mom' though!
We would meet friends in Moseley (Ocean Colour Scene's stomping ground, they named their first album after it), head to one of the many delicious curry houses in the 'Balti Triangle' or catch a band in the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.
I found a job straight away and began to make friends of my own. I have moved around quite a lot in my life and this was the first time in years I felt settled, it actually began to feel like home. Incidentally, it only took me 90 minutes to get back to Wales, so I was really getting the best of both worlds.
After a few years, however, it became apparent that our relationship was ending (way too much to go into, definitely enough material for another post), and I was faced with a decision. Do I just pack up and go back to Wales? Or stay in my newly adopted city where I had a good job and lovely friends? As you may have guessed I opted for the latter.
After finding somewhere to live, the reality finally dawned on me…I was on my own in a big, fairly new city, with absolutely no family nearby, and part of me was grieving the loss of my relationship (even though it was absolutely horrendous at the end). His family, believe it or not, were so lovely, and I missed them more than him. We had spent the last few years in eachother's lives, shared Christmasses, a birth, a death and everything in between. Suddenly my support network had gone, but I didn't feel lonely. I had created a life for myself, in spite of my failed relationship, and I was proud of it.
Fast forward 10 years and I am happier than ever. John came to live here and ended up getting a fantastic job. We obviously had Molly, and I've got some amazing friends with kids the same age who are all so close, and are growing up together. I started my business which means that I get to travel all across the city and beyond and meet loads of different people. Everything really does happen for a reason.
There's still so much of the city I haven't seen, restaurants I'm dying to try (we've got the most Michelin starred restaurants outside of London), bars I want to spend chilled out Sunday afternoons in, parks to take Molly to and museums to wander round. I love this place, we've got everything that London has (but without the expensive price tag), and I actually couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
There's some amazing festivals all year round, the best shops, a Sealife Centre, a brand new beautiful library where you can look out over the entire city, loads of world-class gig venues and theatres, over 500 parks, more canals than Venice, and of course, the highlight of the year, the fabulous German Christmas Market. One of my favourite parts of the city though is the Custard Factory…Molly and I can spend hours just walking around there and admiring all the artwork.
They always say that home is where the heart is, and while my roots will forever be in Wales, my heart is definitely now in Birmingham.