How my love affair with London began

"Do you know, he calls me a tourist when I go down and visit him?" I confessed, knowing it would cause a reaction.

"You? A tourist? In London?" My best friend was incredulous. "London runs through your blood. You." She was indignant on my behalf. "You, of all people, are not a tourist."

There it was. That was the reaction I knew I'd get. Even now when I'm uncertain how much longer I can afford to stay in London, friends remark "but you love London" like that will somehow magically pay the rent. (I wish it would.) But they are right, I do.

Being away from London is refreshing, less tiring, but it's not living. Not for me, anyway. I like the chaos, I like that there's always something to do, and that every corner is steeped in history. I see it's beauty, I am calmed by the smell of an approaching tube, and I feel like me. 

But, it wasn't always like this. In fact, my first experience of London was as traumatic as they come. See, the first time I visited it was in December, many moons ago, and I was with my parents on Oxford Street. People were pushing through with their shopping bags, scores of busy people trying to buy their Christmas presents and winter woolies... and then we saw the blood trickling down the street drain and the sense of panic because a man, for whatever reason, had been stabbed. I was eleven. Welcome to London!

The parents bustled me into the nearest "restaurant" - a really dodgy fake McDonald's type that no longer exists - and insisted it was lunchtime.

"Would you like to go to Madame Tussauds?"

Did I! Well, it was considered pretty cool in 1996. Except when we got there, this was before you could pre-book tickets, there was a four hour queue to get in. Four!!

"How about a bus tour?"

Sold out.

We spent the rest of the afternoon aimlessly mooching around. I'd lost interest. If this was London, then it wasn't worth it. People getting stabbed, lousy food, everything busy and unavailable... and it was a bleak, freezing day. No, thank you.

Guess what happened on the way back home? We broke down. And it took forever for the breakdown people to come and fix things so we could get on our way. I arrived back in Yorkshire wishing I'd never even heard of London - it was a thoroughly rubbish first impression of Blighty's capital for me.

If London had been a boy, I don't think he would have snagged a second date. Though, maybe I *should* remember how London began for me and that a first impression doesn't have to be a lasting impression - look what I think of London now.

I know I won't stay in London forever, but I hope I get to stay here for now. My love affair with London has only just begun now I'm *finally* permanently living there, and I'm not ready to give it up. I don't want to go back to a long-distance relationship, snatched weekends and jaunts down for interviews. My four years in St Andrews shaped me, my few years back in Yorkshire ironed out the kinks, and London will define me. But, I'm not there yet. If I lose London now, if I leave London, I feel I will lose a part of me and that would be catastrophic. I'm not ready for my love affair to be over.

Do you feel this way about where you live? What does where you live mean to you? x

1 comment

  1. London sure has a way of winning people over, doesn't it? The energy of that city is unlike anything I've ever experienced; I fell in love with it, too.

    I do love Kansas City, and I'll always want to consider it a sort of home base, but I find myself almost excruciatingly drawn to other places -- most often London and Paris. Home means family and personal history (something which has its upsides and downsides, certainly), London means adventure, and Paris means perspective. Each place has featured in defining moments in my life, and because of that I think I'll always long for each of them in their own way.