No one ends up in Norwich by accident. If you’re here, it’s because you’re meant to be. There’s no other reason, no way anyone can happen to be just passing through. Located as we are in the bump of Norfolk that juts out into the North Sea, we stand alone, we stand apart. Some might say that makes us insular. I disagree. When you are the only city for miles and miles around, you attract the different ones. The ones who never really fitted in with their town or village. They come to the nearest city and they find their place here.

I was last in Norwich just a few months ago. It seems, though, a lifetime away at the moment. My friend Meagan and I had first gotten to know each other in Norwich over a decade ago. Happening to be in Europe at the same time, we spent a few days there together.

It truly is an odd place. I think one reason I’ve always felt at home there is its isolated, rebellious nature. It embodies something that I cherish in myself: a stray-dog sense of self-possession and independence. A notion that going one’s own way is the only way.

Christ how I love that stony, meandering city tucked out in the broads. I love it out of proportion. I love its rivers almost as much as I love the Columbia, though they’re one twentieth the size. I love its cathedrals, though I’m an avowed Atheist. I love its cramped little pubs and its winding go-nowhere alleys.

It’s an unaccountable city. There’s no clear reason for it to be as enchanting as it is. Nor for the enmity and derision it receives. No one throws shade quite as assuredly as a Londoner who learns you’ve just returned from Norwich.

The time before that that I was in Norwich, I was with a girlfriend who, I think, was trying to Figure Me Out. We laid on the castle green, closed our eyes and drifted a moment under the Anglian sky. We were only there for a day and we spent most of it walking a lazy circle around town. It felt a little like reserving my place. Or like checking in with a friend.

Before that, there’s a long gulf back to when I attended the university for awhile. The University feels like a very different world from the city itself. Which might be why I walked into town every opportunity I got. I lost forty pounds in six months, I reckon, just from the constant long walks, either into the town or out towards the broads. When in town, I used to like to walk through Tombland, or down near Bishopgate and the Cow Tower. I spent hours tracing a track by the river, trying as hard to know myself as to know the city.

I don’t know when I’ll get back that way. But it’s a matter of when, not if. And when I do, I expect to find it much as I left it. Peculiar, slightly insular, and entirely its own.