Today, I remembered a moment in my life—a moment when I had no idea I would come and live in Tokyo for a year. I was living somewhere else and didn’t know anything about my future. To me, Tokyo was a dream. And like all dreams, it was beautiful, tempting, and out of reach.

Now that my year as an exchange student has come to an end, I can’t believe I’ll be going back home tomorrow. I try to analyze what’s inside my head and my heart—my kokoro, as Japanese people would say—and I don’t understand anything. Literally.

I hope that many people can relate to that ambiguous feeling of eagerness to go back home, to hug friends and family, but also the slithering impression that your life is here now and you can’t just uproot what took a year to grow and ripen.

Just when I feel a little more comfortable with my (bad) Japanese, when I have an awesome group of friends with whom to hang out and have fun, when I’m starting to figure out what I want to do with my life … it’s time to say goodbye.

Tokyo has been so good to me. I already knew before coming here that she’s a special, wonderful city, but now I’m completely, deeply, madly in love with her. So I decided to write a love letter to this city, to tell her all the things I didn’t say during the past year, or that maybe I should have said more often.

Tokyo, you aren’t as cold as many want you to be. You’re kind and generous, but you don’t like to show it and pretend to be inhospitable because you know many will leave you, and you don’t want to suffer every single time.

I’ll miss so many things about you: the kiwi-flavored ice cream at 7-Eleven when it was so hot in May; the massage chairs at Bicqlo in Shinjuku; platform number 15 on the Yamanote Line, where I always stood in Shinjuku when returning home from my baito; mixing up the Yurakuchō Line and the Fukutoshin Line for some strange reason; buying Strong Zero, drinking it, and repeating “I will never drink this stuff anymore” every damn time—and then ending up drinking it anyway; the awful music in Saizeriya; crossing Shibuya while drunk; dancing salsa with elderly Japanese guys who I never expected to be such good dancers; the joyful picnics in Yoyogi Park; the Astro Boy jingle at Takadanobaba Station … I could go on for hours. I’ll never get tired of listing the memories because you’ve given me so many precious moments that will be with me forever.

Tokyo is unlike any other city in the world. You don’t “visit” Tokyo; you live her. You have to lose yourself in the tiny streets of Shinjuku, and also in the bigger ones. You have to go and see her skyline around sunset, to see her slowly becoming more beautiful for her favorite part of the day: the night, when Tokyo puts on her best clothes for you to gaze at.

My last words to this city would be simple: I love you; thank you. She would never reply to me, and she wouldn’t even look at me, maybe. But I know she loves me back, and I will forever remember her kindness and her charm. So thank you. And I love you.