Five Years in London

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"London Clouds" by Stefano Montager is licensed by CC by 2.0 

Every time I see that Samuel Johnson quote, I get a bit pissed off. You know the one, it’s the one that goes, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Well, I can safely say that London’s tired me out. I’ve not even made it halfway through this life and I am exhausted.

Five years. I never thought I’d get to five years. I didn’t think I’d get to stay after one.

I moved here at 22 to start my master's course, having never lived outside of Virginia before. I’d never even lived an hour away from my parents before, much less a six hour plane journey over 3,000 miles.

New York had always been the goal for me—my best friend in high school got into this fantastic New York college and I wanted to join her there, but tuition fees kept me from going out of state. Funnily enough that same reason got me to London later in life.

But it was easy. I slipped right into London life seamlessly like I'd lived this life 20 times over.
I don't rely on it as much as I used to at 22, I was young then and everything was shiny and new. I feel the grey and the gales and the rain a lot more these days, but I've found comfort in it. It's unwavering, and at least that’s something I can rely amongst the uncertainty of city life. I honestly wonder whether I will ever be able to afford anything, ever. Maybe I’m just not supposed to?

But even with all of the cynicism and debt that London life has given me, above all things, gratitude.

I'm not yet tired of London, although at times it feels like London is tired of me. Bad breakups, no money, having to move house every single year for one reason or another. Did I mention no money?

Going back to Virginia and telling stories about a seemingly perfect life in London makes me feel like a phony. I don't want to contribute to the delusion that living in London means you’ll be living this super glamourous lifestyle. I’ve fallen into that trap myself.

You have to fight for things here, constantly. Fight for your space on the tube. Fight to be heard. Fight for foam on your pint, or an extra packet of ketchup with your takeaway. Fight for a new job or a pay rise.

It makes you a bit stronger and a bit tougher (maybe a little bit meaner), but I think that's what I needed to learn in moving here. London's taken a bit of the sweetness and naivety out of me, but the romance still lives.

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