For a start, I don't think I've ever had proper moments of real glory. Not in the true sense of the word.
Instead, I've just been having little moments of nostalgia, and appreciating those memories, the small gems in my life so far, because I know there are plenty more to come.
In the last week, I've heard "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys, twice. I hadn't heard it for years, and it brought back quite a few memories. Hearing it twice, when out and about, was a sign for me to give in, and let some of these memories wash over me.
I remember being a little obsessed with the song as a 16-year-old, when I bought Discography: The Complete Singles Collection. It was back when CDs hadn't been around for long, and was the second or third CD I bought with my part-time earnings.
I used to plug the head phones from my old walkman into my gleaming, boxy CD player at night, when the house was quiet. I would sit in an old armchair in my room, listening to this album. I would replay "West End Girls" at the end of the album, several times, before being content enough to climb into bed and sleep. This was before Discmans were around, and the idea of something like an iPod would have been unthinkable. I think I eventually copied it onto a tape, so I could listen to it in bed with my Walkman.
By the time my CD collection had expanded considerably, I was living in London.
Strangely - given I lived in London for nearly four years - I don't have a great deal of photos of London in my albums. I'm sure I have plenty of rejected pics tucked away in a shoe box, but those are in storage on the other side of the world right now. The photos which made it into my albums tend to be of people and friends - as we hung out at many a smoke-filled London pub, or holidays and foreign places. I guess London didn't feel foreign enough for me to get snap happy and document it - who knows?
I had a complicated relationship with that city.
I loved it in the beginning and have amazing memories of my first summer there, discovering the nooks and crevices, the history... but once summer came to an end, London slowly lost its shine for me.
Day to day life pulled me down. Earning a meagre wage, trying to make ends meet - and also save for more travel - in a city with a hefty cost of living. The cold. The grey skies. The darkness at 4pm. The grit in the air. The passive aggressive behaviour on the London Tube. The slightly too polite veneers of people. The way that nobody said what they really meant, directly - just in roundabout ways. For an Australian, there is nothing more frustrating.
I read a quote once, of London being one big toilet bowl. For a while, that's how it felt to me.
I functioned, but wasn't happy. I functioned, but didn't feel like I was really living. Although I never saw a doctor, or spoke to anyone about it, I'm pretty sure that I was depressed. Not to the extent that so many people I know have suffered it, but I think it was there, nonetheless. I was just very good at hiding it.
Time and distance eventually helped. Moving south to Brighton, I began to mostly see good in London when I caught the train up, for weekends with friends. I fell in love with the city again, but it was a long distance relationship. I knew I couldn't be there full time.
This is why hearing the Pet Shop Boys this week has brought back such vivid memories of that time in my life. Just hearing those two words: west end... it all comes rushing back. Colours, sounds, smells.
Throughout those years of living in London, no matter what kind of crappy day, week, month I'd been having, an afternoon or evening in the West End was a guaranteed good time.
It was only a twenty-minute Tube ride into the West End, and I loved the anticipation of what might unfold. I loved walking around, soaking up the atmosphere as it changed from one area to the next. Alone, with J, or with friends, there was always something to see or do.
Window shopping in Covent Garden. Coffee in Soho. Bookshops in Bloomsbury. Jumping on the back of a red double decker bus on Oxford Street, just like the intro to Man About the House. Huge galleries near Trafalgar Square. Stalking squirrels in Hyde Park. Theatre in Covent Garden. Cocktails in Covent Garden. Clubbing and boat restaurants near Embankment. Bright lights and greasy take-away at 3am in Piccadilly Circus.
Something for everyone.
It's been more than seven years since we left the UK, and the memories have shifted in a way I never imagined they would. When we first left, I believed that was it. Finished. Never going back.
Over time, though, a rose-tinted glow has formed and I find myself entertaining the idea of going back. Not to live, but to visit. Catch up with friends. I'm curious to see what's new, what has changed - apart from me. I don't know if it'll ever happen, but the fact that I'm even considering it one day is a big turnaround.