There are days when I long for London.
I grew up (and attended college) in the country, but man… London has wedged its way into my heart. When I left, its loss was searing. I couldn’t go a day without longing to be back. The longer I’ve been away, though, the more life conceals my love of England’s capital. It’s like a piece of gold buried in my heart that is buried more every day. Out of sight, out of mind–as they say.
But then, suddenly, it all comes back.
I remember the feel of my feet on the pavement. The splatter of rain on my umbrella. The sound of people of every age and color jostling for a place to stand on the Tube. The twitters of excitement as the curtain draws at the start of a West End show. The laughter of kids on field trips in art galleries. Dogs barking in Hyde Park. Red double-decker busses lumbering through the city. Eager shoppers flocking on Oxford Street. The warm laughter coming from pubs. The musty scent of books haphazardly stacked floor to ceiling in the stores on Charing Cross Road. The clang of Big Ben. The elegant statues of Whitehall.
As the memories flood back, I’m overcome with longing.
Virginia Woolf states it best in Mrs. Dalloway:
“One feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. Such fools we are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can’t be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment in June.”
To love London is to love life.
Will I ever be back?