The last time I went to London, I was with my mum. We were staying at a nice hotel and London was just this dreamy city, this chunk of people and places and houses and stories that I was only allowed to visit on occasion, peek in for a short weekend before I had to go back home to where I belonged.
Now this is also my home, this craziest, most wonderful of all the cities I’ve ever been to. Now I walk along Waterloo Bridge at night sometimes, and I look around me and I don’t understand how I could ever get so lucky to make this particular speck of earth my home for a little while. It’s a strange sensation, leaving your heart in places. The last week here is full of small goodbyes (to my library, to my favourite park, to the people who were complete strangers to me only three months ago) and the sudden instinct to weep upon the smallest occasion (standing atop Primrose Hill, the tube ride home after my last seminar, a pink horizon and sunshine across my room in the morning), the knowledge that inevitable heart-break is sitting right around the corner, will be sitting next to me on the plane home and will be sitting next to me for a little while after that.
There is something I can’t quite explain about this city, something that makes me feel like anything would be possible here. I love South Kensington with its white, impressive, column-doored houses, I love Notting Hill with the colourful streets and the Antiques market on Saturday, I love Clapham with its seedy high street and the beautiful old town behind it, I love Camden with its vintage shops and the canals, I love Primrose Hill with its windy views and the best bakery in all of London, I love King’s Cross with the floating book store and the British library. I love its people and the possibility of seeing something new every day.
It makes me proud to know that I have conquered a bit of London for myself, and that I am no longer an outsider peeking in. That I know first-hand how crammed the morning commute is, that I used to come home after a long day and watch the street below my window and think of this as my neighbourhood, that I had an oyster card with my photograph printed on it, that I was on my way home on a December Thursday night with one kilogram of Brussel sprouts in my arms and a slightly tipsy man clad in a suit looked at me incredulously and hollered: “So many sprouts, you MANIAC” and I laughed and said “I know, love ‘em” and walked out the tube as if I had been born and raised in South London, that I now no longer pronounce ‘Marylebone’ the wrong way, that my way to uni once involved walking through Victoria Embankment Gardens, that I now have a map of London in my head without having to look it up online.
But in spite of all of that, despite the glam and the glory, I am excited for home.
Home home, Switzerland.
I know now that that is the price to pay for the roots that are given to us. No matter how sparkling and beautiful and exciting a city may be, it’s just a city without the people that mean the most to you.
I know now that I couldn’t move to another city indefinitely, that I’ll always be drawn back homewards.
So, I think I’ve found my answer.
(For the question see here: http://florasramblings.com/2018/09/09/home/ )