As I’m writing this, I’m flying high at 35,978 feet and a ground speed of 474 miles per hour. I’ve got about an hour and 35 minutes (and just short of that in computer battery time) until we reach my next, and final, destination before returning home to New York on Monday.
I know I promised a post on Croatia, and certainly there will be one on my week in Israel with my mom, but after just watching the movie Hyde Park on Hudson about the “special relationship” between King George VI and FDR, I felt compelled to acknowledge the city that’s launched me to all these points on the map in the first place: London.
Surely, we have a special relationship of our own.
It’s hard to believe this chapter, and all its many sub-chapters, is finally coming to an end in just two days. I guess that’s because it’s propelled me toward a new beginning; one that I’m still navigating with excitement and anticipation.
Over the past few months, several people have asked me if I’d ever want to live permanently in London, and if so, where. The answer is: I’m not sure and I don’t know. The city didn’t grab a hold of me immediately, like, say, Paris and its light or Bali and its rice paddies. Of course, I wandered its twisty streets that begin with one name and end up another with a perma-smile on my face 24-7 – despite its dizzying non-grid. But it’s a LARGE city; way bigger than I expected. From its historical pubs to hip cellar cocktail bars, high street shops and heaths, there’s just so much ground to cover.
Since I had an expiration date (and a constant case of FOMO), I rushed around attempting to do just that, which often left me feeling more like a visitor. (Albeit a very, very comfortable visitor.)
I think it just takes time to learn and love and settle into London. To just be with it; in it.
New Yorkers claim you need 10 years in the Big Apple in order to be declared a real “citizen of the city,” so I suppose I shouldn’t expect any less from Blighty’s multi-faceted metropolis.
Still, for such a short time, I managed to memorize various postal codes and give them to cabbies before hopping in; to queue even if there isn’t a queue; to order a large glass of wine – or heck, the whole bottle; that a stone is about 14 pounds and I likely gained at least half of one; to look right first before crossing; to remove my tea bag; to check my train ticket and the carriage car I’m sitting in; to always carry an umbrella; to complain about the weather no matter what; to Sunday roast, not brunch; and most of all, to have patience. Something I’m constantly struggling with.
That said, the clock is ticking. My battery is running out and we’re flying over Antwerp with about 38 minutes to go.
I’m excited to land and hear the “ello” again; to touch my oyster card and to mind the gap; to FINALLY regroup with Ellie tomorrow, and take another yoga master class with the incomparable Stuart Gilchrist, followed by some LARGE beers at a pub with all the mates I’ve made.
It may not have been “love at first sight,” or even bashert, as they say in Israel, but London and I got along just fine. In fact, this separation won’t come without anxiety and I’m not totally convinced we won’t get back together someday soon for a longer haul. As I said way back when all this started, when it comes to great cities, I seem to have a cheatin’ heart…