Do you ever visit a city, find something wonderful and just want to hold onto it? You think “if only I could stay here a little bit longer…” or “if only I could come back in a different season…”
I was back in Brussels last week and found myself telling old friends and colleagues how lucky I still feel to be living in London. I keep waiting to get jaded or for the little thrills to die down… but for the most part, they aren’t. And it freaks me out a little bit because if I’m completely honest: I’ve liked places I’ve lived before, but I’m not sure I ever truly loved them.
OK, yes, I’m starting to get tired of my commute across the city everyday and I don’t get excited about M&S anymore (you laugh, people of England, but M&S is a destination in itself coming from the European continent). But by and large, I keep feeling like someone might come up to me and tell me I have to give my visa back…
I pinch myself when I find myself spontaneously smiling, as a reminder to appreciate it. I realised it again tonight, coming home from a lovely blogger’s gathering. Bloggers are the worst for this… (and by worst, I really mean the best) They are some of the most optimistic, enthusiastic, up-for-anything people out there and I walked home feeling lucky once again to be able to do the things I do here.
So much so, I wrote a list of a few favorite “pinch me” moments from the past year:
- Watching The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House
- Walking through Hyde Park one day and realising I was on the path Maggie Gyllenhaal ran down during the first episode of An Honourable Woman
- Driving over Westminster Bridge for the first time, gaping through the windshield at The Houses of Parliament
- Spotting Simon Reeve in the Gap (don’t laugh, I love him)
- Walking through Kew Gardens just as spring hit
- Seeing a play at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
- Taking in the view from the Duck & Waffle
- Picnicking on Primrose Hill
- Finding myself on the Tube in the evening, packed full of people, but no one says a word because everyone is reading. (Let’s not kid ourselves, the drunken Tube rides where everyone has had one too many and is speaking 100 decibels above recommended ear strength also happens…)
- Reading that Kirsten Scott Thomas is living in my neighborhood as she prepares for her role in The Queen
- Realising I can have a pint at The Holly Bush in Hampstead anytime I like
- Everyman movie theatres
- Charity drives (it might like to pretend like it isn’t, but by and large, London is a city that cares)
- Living near a Whole Foods again for the first time in 10 years
- Wondering how on earth I can see everything I want to see. This may sound like a negative, but despite a lack of endless resources and time, it is still the best kind of problem a spoiled person can have. If I’m honest, I got bored sometimes in Brussels. I never get bored in London. I may get tired. But not bored.
- Constant firsts. Like discovering Somerset House, the V&A, Leighton House Museum, Daunt Books, Hatchett’s, Fortnum & Masons’s, Little Venice, Northcote Road, Sager & Wilde, Summer Cinemas, Spitalfields, The Churchill War Rooms, the view from Waterlow Park, Greenwich, Exmouth Market (the list goes on…)
Its big but its small. Its old but its new. Its overwhelming and familar.
And on days like today, I just freaking love it.
Pictures taken by JessOnThames over the last year