three months into life in london, i’ve learned to stand to the far right of escalators, appreciate a midday pint, glare at tourists walking far too slowly on the pavements, and appear nonplussed at all times of day. i’m not quite sure if i’ve learned very much more than that — about austen, shakespeare, or british romanticism, all which i’m meant to know more about by now, all which i’m in a wee bit of a trouble for knowing so little about — and yet i couldn’t be happier about my current state of affairs.
except maybe the bit where i have to return to singapore in three weeks.
i am so inclined to call london my home, this place with all its quirks and eccentricities, which everyone, myself included, laments about: the weather (too changeable), the food (too bland), the rail (too unpredictable). alas, this place is not yet mine.
there was, after all, something much too magical about imagining the city to be yours. its galleries, where i could always find solace in the quiet beauty of art, its parks and theatres, in all their magnificence — these were all mine to revel in, so long as i remained here. it never fails to strike me how strange and marvellous it is, to be able to ‘pop by the courtauld to visit my favourite impressionists’; just imagine all the cultural capital that you could own because of something as arbitrary as your postcode.
is it a little selfish of me to wish to leave everything of my past behind, for this life, which has so nurtured and galvanised me? i’ve always had the habit of telling others that home — that is, singapore — felt too stifling, but i’ve never quite known what it is of myself that i’ve had to chip away in order to be my parents’ child, until i forgot their faces and their voices in my head.
perhaps this life is a slightly lonely one, for it is oft by yourself that you stumble home — to camberwell, i mean — in the middle of the night, with slight regret at drinking too much, away from the club, away from the minor celebrity, and away from that one party where you danced with felix white at the bar. still, it is in this aloneness that i’ve found this city most wonderful. wandering about covent garden on a sunday night, with its streets cleared of activity, its air damp with rain, and lights glistening in the trees, your could only feel so tranquil, so protected, and so at ease in your corporeal self that for a single moment, you know you’re alive. and perhaps this is enough.
im not sure how i’ll take to being under my parents’ roof again, when i finally return for the new year (the housing situation with my university has not really been in my favour), though i suppose i’ll have my work — and books — to take refuge in till summer arrives. what i can now do is only to cross my fingers and hope that with the new year comes new opportunities, and if not, the sheer presence of my best friend, who will, as she has always done, make the sweltering weather just a tad more bearable.