My ex London

Every time I go back to London, it feels like meeting up with an ex. It’s awkward at first, then something clicks and you I’m drawn by what charmed me when we first met. For a moment I think something is still there, music starts playing. Ultimately, I understand I’m are either a different person, or I simply remember too well all that I don’t really like about it.

Indeed we have shared a prolonged engagement. I have been seduced by the language, the culture, the amazing melting pot, the intricateness of the stories of the souls that arrive and leave like falling leaves in autumn.

I moved to London when I was 20, bursting with energy and ready to take it all. I wanted fight, to find my own way and create a new life for myself. I met more people that I currently recollect, and I never felt as lonely as surrounded by the crowds. Life in the city has been as exciting as alienating, to finally become balanced and stable.

For a person that loves travelling, it’s where it feels natural to be. A myriad of nationalities, languages, customs and oddities come together. English culture as contour, but in reality, it’s a constant interaction between continents: from India to Europe, taking a detour to Australia, glimpsing a bit of Africa and breathing Atlantic breezes.

To me, London is the most cosmopolitan town in Europe, with plenty of stories to tell. A once was capital of the largest empire in history, to a country that is still struggling to find its own modern identity. And please forgive me London, I forgot to say you are pretty, and indeed prettier than Paris.

The outcome of this is somewhat scruffy and colourful, democratic and inclusive: how can you not feel free in such a context? But just at first. Later on, you realise that for such complexity to coexist, there is a lot of polite exclusion and class divergence between the lines. Despite superficially welcoming all visitors, in the long run London reminds you too well you don’t quite fully belong there.

Somehow, the electoral Brexit results have been anticipated in my stomach, and one day I woke up and I knew that between London and me it was over. Shockingly, for the fist time in my life, I desired returning home.

For sure, over the years, priorities have changed. Things I could have never imagined wanting, are now at the hearth of how I decide to live my life: better quality of life, family around. But I also know that what felt amazing 10 years ago, turned, slowly, into something I started to despise. The tube, the crowds, the weather, how easy it was to meet people and forget about them.

At a certain time, London felt like a city of the 20 something, to a point that it became weird. Even if there were other age groups around me, somehow they still acted just like ‘us’. They still shared apartments and rooms, considering whether to stay or to go back, they still got wasted on weekends. As if they were frozen in their 20s, condemned to live like this over, and over, again.

What got me out of London, though, was the awareness I didn’t belong. I didn’t feel any ancestral connection to the place after all, and I realised I was only a temporary guest. In the meantime, my dad got sick so I felt the urge of re-connecting to those roots that were at my very core.

Now that I re-visited London over a lovely weekend with Luca, his father and companion, I know London it’s still the same old town with the same old tune: instead, I’m the one who changed. Despite this I look at London with great affection for all that we shared, as little by little it became part of who I am.

 

 

 

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