It has been almost exactly two years since we left London. Well – since Chris left London, and since Ann ran for her life.
While Chris and I are very much a unit, we are not always united. We come from vastly different molds, he and I. Like most moderately successful couples, we’re very much on par about the things that are important to us – the deal breakers – and we make lots of room for respecting our respective remaining and widely ranging opinions on the world around us. London is one of those things in the world on which our opinions diverge.
Chris’ take on London falls in line with what I’ve come to accept is the reigning opinion of almost everyone alive: London is vibrant, beautiful, electric, alive! I don’t disagree with any of those things. I just had a tough run…owing to me, to others, to circumstances…but mostly – as it is so often in this sometimes-humiliating life – to me.
Resultantly, it’s not a place with which I’m entirely at peace. To date I haven’t yet yearned to go back, to walk its streets, to eat its chips and curry or drink its cider. I miss some extraordinary people I came to love there something awful, though, and it is for that reason that I am positively thrilled that Chris’ clients are giving me the opportunity to accompany him for a couple of weeks.
This means, however, that I’ve got some demons to address. In five years there, I grew professionaly and I learned a lot (including that it is almost never cool when people imitate your accent. And that apparently all U.S. Americans sound like we’ve got clothespins attached to our noses all the time). I also met and grew to love the afore-mentioned extraordinary people. But otherwise, I stagnated. I got stuck. I ceased becoming a better person. I became bitter, fat, and anxious. I liked me less than I have at perhaps any point in my life. For anyone who knew me as a kid, that’s saying a lot. It was rough.
Now that I’m going back – and I’m happy I’m going, mind you – I have to decide a few things.
Firstly, who’s in charge of my emotions – London or me? For those five years I conceded and London owned me. I think this time I’m going to take control. It’s a limited stay, after all.
Secondly, owing to my limited time, I will not allow London to eat it for breakfast, dinner, tea and supper. I will be selective about how I spend my time, and I will do as many things I never did (or not often enough) while living there as possible: I will work from the British Library, I will visit museums, I will work from the library at the British Museum. I will take walks and ascertain, once and for all, the subtle differences in the Victorian buildings that somehow allow millions of Londoners past and present to discern between the various streets.
And finally, I’ll implement this very important thing I’ve learned in the two years since I left: life does happen to us sometimes, for better or worse. But roughly just as often, we can rise above it. London spent a long time laughing at my misery. This time around I intend to put the kettle on and make us both a nice cuppa, even if it’s only for a short visit.