It’s been two and a half years. It’s been forever and it was just yesterday. I stood on a street corner this morning just outside a tube station. I stood for an hour. I can’t even describe the feeling except to say; home.
I hated London when I first got here in 2001. Now I miss it more than any other place I have ever been. When I first got here the relationship I was in was on the rocks. I was alone and, to be quite honest, lost. I don’t make friends quickly as I am shy and don’t approach people. In the first three months here I found every reason I could to hate London; the people were rude, the streets dirty, the weather bad. I walked around quite a bit but never saw the beauty of the city because of my emotions.
I guess things started to change around the start of December. I was sitting on a bench in one of the gardens in the Barbican when a guy stopped to ask me for a light. I told him I did not smoke. But he stopped to talk a few minutes because he recognized me; he lived on the same floor as I did in Finsbury Halls. It was through P— that I met most of the people I became friends with in London. I traveled all over London with these people, partied and shopped, studied and talked. I started to be able to appreciate the city. I came to understand what Dr. Johnson meant when he said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
As I approached the end of my stay in London I spent a lot of time trying to find a way to extend my stay. Being an American it is nearly impossible to find a job here however without a great deal of experience. So all my efforts led to naught and I had to leave. Leaving was painful. By this time my life was in London; my girlfriend, most of my friends and everything I wanted to do was in London. I left quietly, early in the morning. I called a cab, loaded my bags and said goodbye to no one in person. I guess it was selfish but I did not want to deal with leaving. I wanted to just be gone.
Yesterday when I got back I felt the most satisfying sense of peace that I have had since I left. Stepping off the plane and hearing the accents, walking past the HSBC ads in Heathrow, riding the Tube into central London, seeing the black cabs, even the gray sky and misty rain were perfect. I feel at home just standing on the street corner. I want to come back. I have found nothing better in my travels.