Its been over nearly six years now since I returned back home to the city of London, six years since I thought my life had gone as far as it could in the seaside town I had truly grown up and developed in. The decision came in a flash and was impulsive driven by a lack of understanding and a want for freedom, whatever the factors though that drove me it to do it, it has remained one of the most important and incredible decisions I have made. I originally headed to London to gain an education from the university of Greenwich but six years later I still find myself here and embroiled once again in a love affair I thought was slipping away.
As a dewy eyed teenager nearing young adulthood I found myself living a mere ten minutes from the home I grew up in. Even with all the anxieties and stresses of finding myself completely alone and having to fend for myself I was also in love. I was seeing my old town and city anew mixed with waves of nostalgia and the oddest moments of deja vu. Everything was as scary as it was exciting, just like in those early days of a relationship it was just me and the city. Things that seem so trivial and commonplace now were exciting and ever so enticing, of getting on red buses, the tube, of wandering down ignored alleyways or seeing the likes of St. Pauls or Canary Wharf poke its head up above the horizon line. It was that perfect capsule of being able to discover a place freely and completely, I may have been in solitude in my discoveries at first but that would soon change as the academic year progressed. There came ventures to museums, to parks unimaginable in such a bustling city, to a sneaky tour of the Citi building, to wandering misremembered streets at two, three, four am, to running out for midnight supplies and then there were the people, the strangers, shopkeepers, flatmates, random acquaintances and soon to be friends.
There was a love for the city and everything it had given me and was still offering up. With time though that all began to slip away as I moved further and further into the far removed parts of the city. The city itself becoming a distant relationship, only briefly rekindled over a weekend snooping round bookshops or museums but forgotten when the train hurtled me out into the far reaching suburbs of zone four. Even though that is where my love had been grown, the city had just become a daily passing monolith as I traveled the hour and a half round trip from Abbey Wood to Camden for work. It was still my city but I no longer felt a part of it, that I was just a spectator to its life.
The thing with love though, a love you truly believe in, is that it never goes away, it is allowed time to ebb and weave, to find a new courses and nuances, to correct itself and swell. It doesn’t have to be a constant high, it doesn’t have to be an all consuming, every moment of the day kind, it can middle in the background, buying time, waiting. In the past month I moved further into the centre of the city, again a decision filled with fear and possibility. Yet it hit me, that familiar feeling of everything feeling new, it felt like it was mine to see for the first time and explore, accompanied by those waves of familiarity and nostalgia. Travelling on buses, of touring the city, of seeing the people, the community around me, the art and the architecture was all just like when I had first returned, just with slightly more weathered eyes. Even so it gave me hope, it promised me that the strive I had made to survive within the city wasn’t for nothing, that all those reasons I had originally dreamed of and found still existed. In it all my love resurfacing for a city I thought had forgotten me but it was just I who had forgotten what it was that I had loved about it in the first place but I have found it again and I hope I never lose it. For I love my city, my home.