*2.55 pm* sipping on a cappuccino, overlooking the sunlit Peace Gardens in the city centre. There’s a faint, continuous sound of water running through the water fountains and a gentle spring breeze blows the hem of my blue dress. It is a beautiful, beautiful day in Sheffield.
White and pink magnolias are in their full bloom, they border the water fountain on the right side of the garden beside the iconic Sheffield Town Hall. Everyone is outside, soaking the warmth and light of the sun. Young mothers and fathers walking around with their babies in pushchairs and prams, lovesick couples dressed in bright t-shirts and picnic shorts, no longer holding hands for warmth, but revelling on their own. Elderly men and women sitting on the benches, watching their grandkids run around in the grass. There is an overload of goggles and bright colours. Heavy jackets are no longer hanging on the hook by the door, they are folded, packed and placed carefully at the back of the closets. Everyone is outside, smiling. Spring brings out the best in people I suppose.
The winter blues are a real thing. I had only heard of seasonal depression until now because winters back home are/ were the most pleasant of all the seasons, my favourite, in fact. Monsoons and summers weren’t such a problem either, they just happened and you worked around them. But the winters in this country, in Sheffield, were some of the most depressing months I’ve ever lived through. I’ve struggled to wake up in the mornings and sleep without crying at nights and I don’t even know why!?
Now it has been a whole year around the sun since I’ve been in Sheffield. My first time in a new continent, with people I’ve never met before, and surroundings so unfamiliar. There have been a bunch of first times and I remember how special each of them felt; the first time I stepped out of my accommodation and walked the streets alone, ate at a corner table at Nando’s, met skaters on my way back and stuck around the city centre to watch them do their tricks. I remember the first time I visited every park in the city, the trip I made to city hall, cathedral and the cemetery. I had a sudden realisation that there aren’t going to be any first times of anything in this city (or country) anymore. Yesterday, when I was sitting outside the Chakra Lounge, a quaint Indian cafe, basking in the afternoon sun with Women in Love accompanying my solitude, I saw a middle-aged man with a brown hat and a backpack clicking photos of the city on his phone. He turned towards my direction and from a distance clicked a photo of the cafe I was at and the building behind it. I’m not sure but I think I made it to his photograph, a small part of his experience of the city. I remember being in his position a year ago, walking around and clicking photos of every thing I saw and sharing it with my parents. Yesterday, I became a part of the city, a part of his first impressions of it. I was a part of what the man will take home as his memories of Sheffield. And it dawned on me how I’ve gone from being a foreigner to a dweller over the last year. It was a full-circle moment and I’ve had one after a long time!
So, I am back here because it a milestone; being by myself and away from home for a year. I wanted to note it down, look back and have something to smile about when times get hard. I also love to chirp about British summers every chance I get. That’s all, ladies. See you next time.