Returning to England after two years’ absence was quite the surreal experience. For one thing, the entire city of London was imbued with the memories of my time at graduate school, most of which were sad, stressful, tinged with alcohol, and damn cold.

For another, there was absolutely no proof that I had ever lived there, other than the fact that the Polish porter in my apartment building remembered me. Otherwise I left no mark on either the city or my school, since my professors weren’t there to visit and lift a pint with for old times’ sake. In other words, I could have completely made up the entire year abroad, which wasn’t exactly a heartening feeling.

Nonetheless, London it was, and I got to redeem many of my sad, stressful memories by replacing them with happy, relaxed, and slightly less alcoholic ones. This time around I was there with a wonderful man, whom I am about to marry in a little over a month (good God!), and I had considerably more money available to me than I did when I lived there. (Never mind that I didn’t actually know of any decent restaurants in the area, as I had only eaten at the cheap, disgusting, and alcoholic ones while living there!)

Therefore I got to show him all the silly touristy things that I was too busy to do during grad school, and had only previously done on other happy visits with my family years before. Things like this (the Tower of London):

And this (requisite shot of the Eye, Parliament, and Big Ben):

So we had our nice dinners, our high tea at Harrod’s (very civilized!), and our Pimm’s by the river, all of which went far to ease the memories of studying for fourteen hours straight, winter days when the sun set at 3:30 PM, and the constant ache of unrequited love. Slowly, I began to love London again like I did when I was younger. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.