As the train pulled in, and I saw the sign, I took a spontaneous intake of breath, and said,

I’m in Leicester again.

Within the brief moment between pulling into the station and the doors being unlocked, I had a tangible sense of all that Leicester as a place means to me. Accompanied by a rush of feel good feelings. – Although tinged with sadness.

I lived there from 1998-2002. Those 4 years were a pivotal time in numerous ways. I stepped out of some of my comfort zones, and tried some things I had long wanted to; I let down some of my walls, and allowed myself to be vulnerable; met some friends for life (“over a cliffà la Scandal friends); acquired two godsons, one of whom I saw come into the world; had the privilege of meeting some pioneering people, and being part of what they were doing. The impact of some of it still ongoing.

I grew as a person. Through highs and lows, late nights with my gurls eating Shazmin’s or Maryland wings, Sunday cooking for a flat full of young people, community choirs, the “snot rug’ (those who know, know), and much more. And I was not alone. I know this, because during those 4 years I got to journey with some great people, seeing their stories unfold, celebrating the successes, sharing in the struggles.

I also know this, as on Friday I saw many of those people, as we came together to bid a final farewell and celebrate the life of one of our people. Danny, aka Bro D. His passing brought us together again, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in 13 years. It was a day full of deep deep remembrances. Not just of Danny, but of the significant ways in which our paths had crossed, the memories etched into our hearts, the tapestry of our lives forever intertwined. Even though some of us may not see each other again for another 13 years, or at all. Why? Because of the pivotal time we lived, learned, laughed, and loved together, in Leicester.

I’m in Leicester again. – And extra grateful that I am in the UK at this time.