I arrived to live in England short of 20 years ago. I was young, naive, then.

I arrived carrying only my luggage, overflowing with CDs. My life was all about music, I couldn’t even imagine a life without music. I remember walking towards Diego’s flat. My luggage breaking. CDs and records spilling out of it. And I was still smiling, happy with the prospect of a life in the UK.

Days passed by. I got my first job. A customer service job. I recall this Irish guy marching at my trade till at 7.30am asking for some water. His van was stranded just outside the store and he wanted to fill up his radiator. I was looking at him, trying hard to understand what he was saying, w-wa-wawa, woha… nothing! I felt tears coming to my eyes, what was I doing in the UK? I wouldn’t have made it alive.

Life was hard. I was living in a place I couldn’t understand. The effort I was putting in trying so hard to understand, fit in, find my way, was just giving me headaches at the end of every single day.

And then, one random day, it happened. I was at work. I was sitting down in the canteen on my lunch break. My usual corner, the only place I felt safe from people trying to interact with me. I was sitting there, it was so crowded. I was attempting to read my very first book in English. And suddenly it happened: someone made a joke and I found myself laughing at it. I wasn’t even listening to the conversation, I was reading my book, but I got the joke!

Let me tell you: things changed from there. I got a better job, a better home, a better English. That joke gave me the confidence to build a better life for myself.

Years passed. Happy years. I had a career. I got married to Diego. We travelled. We laughed and we fought. We bought our first car and then a house. Then we bought our next house, the first place that felt like home in a very long time.

This house, this marriage, this life in the UK brought us our son. Our wonderful, unique, quirky son, who makes our lives so complicated, fulfilled, exciting and happy. Never thought someone could make me love him so much, and pushing all my buttons at the same time.

England was a dream destination when growing up, it became the place I was living in, and then just my life. Now I’m leaving England, and I feel a sense of emptiness in my heart.

I will miss my England, the gossiping of the mums at school run, my “get fit” 2km school run, the whispering of the wind through our back garden trees, the birds that wake me up at dawn, the smell of take-away, and the multitude of languages and cultures.

I’m going to love telling my son about the place his coming from, the wonderful people we’ve met here, about his troubles at school, the first friendships he made, his foster family and his long-distance brother. I will be so proud, and a tiny emotional, in telling him how loved he was by the friends he made in here and everyone he met.

And I will always be a bit regretful for taking him away from all this. I will always be wondering “what if”. A part of me will always feel guilty about moving away. I just hope I can live up to his expectations and give him the life he deserves.

So, I guess this is my goodbye to a wonderful place, and to the great people that have seen me grow up and became the woman I’m today.

I raise my glass to England, the place where I feel at home.

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