M came to stay. Suitcase loaded full of chocolate and almonds and pesto and all the things you can't get out here, or can but only for stupidly crazy imported prices (oh, First World problems). The initial bizareness of my new life and old life suddenly sharing the same sphere, replaced within a few days by how normal it felt. Camping trips, trips to see the Bonobos, breakfast on the balcony, afternoons by the pool, making pizza from scratch. When he left the flat suddenly felt empty, in a way it hadn't before, when there had only been me, before it had known his presence. He is now in Vancouver, with a new job, and once again we are across two continents, miles apart, Skype conversations at unsociable hours, mind always half on the next holiday, the next time we see each other.
I went back to England. It was glorious. Jam-packed and all over the place - Norfolk, London, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, more London (lots of London), but truly glorious. Time spent with family, with friends, with M. Walking and walking and walking through the city. Museum trips in the middle of the day, Soho restaurants at night, holidaying in my home town, fully enjoying it and appreciating it.
And now I am back, have been since the start of June. Post holiday blues of the worst kind, a crippling homesickness for London the entire first week back. The prospect of three years here suddenly daunting, when before it wasn't, or at least not so much.
I have been back three weeks now, and homesickness fades, like all things.
You slip back into routines, reacquaint yourself with the things that were good about your new life here, before you were reminded of fresh milk and salad and drivers who pay attention to the Highway Code.
Reacquaint yourself with setting suns the pink-orange of a not yet warmed up street-light, with the frogs who lurch sideways away from your approach as you arrive home after dark, with the neatly stacked piles of oranges and papaya, pyramids of increasing ripeness, carefully constructed by the fruit sellers at the side of the road.
You begin to live again like this is for the long haul and not just a passing phase, plant squash and nasturtiums and feel glad that the basil flourished under the care of the friends who stopped by to water the plants while you were gone. Sign up for French lessons, because if there is one thing you definitely want from these three years it is to be actually good at French and not just passable. Hang some more of the pictures that have been leaning against walls since week 8 when you unpacked. Fight the urge to just.stay.home. watching box sets, instead make yourself put on insect repellent and a nice dress, head to the Kinshasa Jazz Festival. Until somewhere, at some point, in between the neon green laser show and the beautiful, if lyrically inaccurate, rendition of Rolling in the Deep, it becomes ok to be back here again.