By Jacy DeLoach
It rained three, maybe four times during my stay. Where I’d anticipated a biting cold that stung my eyes and the tips of my ears, there was only my turtleneck and trench coat sitting unworn on top of my suitcases. It was cold, cold enough for scarves at least, although this need for layers was mostly due to the wind. I find myself missing that wind now, even though it could, at times, be unpredictable and vicious. That wind lives on in my lungs somewhere. That is to say, London lives within me.
Most cities are hubs for potential and London is no exception. For me, possibility manifested in the chance to meet my girlfriend, El, after seven years of knowing her. Multiple people have asked me if it was strange to see her in person and the answer, quite simply, is no. We’d grown up together, albeit with the Atlantic between us. She was exactly who I knew her to be.
I am, admittedly, not that great at being a traditional tourist. Even with the extra time I spent there as a result of catching Covid, I didn’t take many pictures and while we did walk past Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye, it was never my intention to gawk at the attractions. Instead, El and I saw The Lumineers live and got tattoos of one of their album covers. I also had the chance to explore the endless shelves of books in Waterstones’ Piccadilly location, which is known for being the biggest bookstore in Europe. I will not reveal how much I spent here as it was inadvisable and a tragedy for my wallet. Goodnight sweet prince.
During one particular journey on the Underground, I found myself wishing I could draw. There were only a few people in the carriage. Across from us sat a man with grey-blond hair, adorned in a tweed blazer. On his lap, a briefcase and, in his hands, an aged book of poetry. I thought he surely must’ve been a professor of some eccentric arts and humanities-based topic, such as philosophy or the classics. I’ll probably never see him again but that doesn’t strike me as sad. He had kind eyes.
Even without sightseeing, London was a profound experience for me. Simply walking aimlessly made me aware of how much culture I was surrounded by, and that in and of itself was astounding. At one point I became intensely aware that each person living in London has their own life, their own family and friends, their own aspirations. Of course, the same goes for any place in the world, but to see so much individuality in one location was cathartic.
It is tried and true that nobody can know what the future holds, but I’m fairly certain of the future I want. My plan right now is to finish my associates at East Central and go on to further my education in London. To get a flat with El and maybe a few cats. I have never felt more myself than I did in this city. London lives within me, and if at all possible, I would like to live within London.