I’ve been infatuated with London for years, ever since my family vacationed here in 2005. That’s a long time to be in a long distance relationship with a city. Still, I remained faithful. Leaving the States behind was harder than I expected, even though I could hardly wait to reach my destination. But after a series of flight delays, a classic movie-style sprint through an extremely confusing airport (here’s looking at you, Toronto International), and getting on and off four different wrong trains in the Heathrow Airport, I made it. I’m here. I sit here writing this from my flat in Notting Hill—the Notting Hill—watching double-decker buses trundle up the hill followed by daredevils on bicycles.
I know you’re not supposed to enter a situation with expectations too high, but I couldn’t help it. I’ve been waiting and anticipating my life in London for ages and ages. Of course, my excitement at being here doesn’t mean that everything has been smooth sailing. There were snags like jet lag, figuring out the differences between the twenty pence and fifty pence pieces, and navigating a new traffic pattern. After a week and a half, jet lag is nonexistent, the coinage is less confusing, and as for the traffic, well, I’ve adopted a policy of looking every possible direction from which a car could appear. Problem solved.
Every morning I wake up, tug open the blinds, look out onto the garden that is my backyard, and think, I’m really here. I wander through the streets of Portobello Market, the sound of at least fifty different languages bombarding my ears as I search relentlessly for a crepe stand (it isn’t hard to find one—they’re everywhere), and realize, This is my neighborhood. I drink tea at least once every day; I grab my copy of the London Evening Standard on the way home to get the best (read: most entertaining) news of the day; I watch BBC news like an adult. London life is slowly but surely taking hold, and I don’t think it will be long before London becomes synonymous with ‘home.’
Last week’s goal was to settle in and fully unpack my suitcases. Mission accomplished. This week’s goals include tackling the British education system, figuring out how to work the appliances in my flat, and learning how to navigate around London. Seeing as my complete lack of directional competence is already a laughing stock here, I’m clearly not doing too well. But don’t people say that half the adventure is getting really lost along the way and arriving one day late and in the wrong place? Something like that.