I’ve been sighing a lot in London lately. I often talk about how much I love this city on this blog; I wrote a whole post about why it deserves every bit of that love, just over a year ago. In that post, I cited the things to do, the galleries, the people, the restaurants, the markets. And I still stand by every word of that post. From Broadway Market to Saatchi Gallery, to afternoon tea and early morning raves, I’m more in love with this city than ever.
But we all know what love is like. It starts off like fireworks, all oohs and aahs, lust and passion. If we’re lucky, that feeling stays for a while. If we’re really lucky, that feeling stays forever.
If you live in London, or have travelled there recently, you probably visited the Tower of London to see the poppies. But for those who couldn’t make it, I wanted to share photos from last week, when I saw it for myself. 888, 426 individual ceramic poppies were placed around the Tower of London, one for each British military casualty in the First World War. While it is visually stunning, I was completely overwhelmed by the tragedy it represents.
The last time I saw you, you were walking away from my flat, waving. As you turned the corner I still had a smile on my face. And then – you disappeared.
We met in a crowded east London bar over the thud of dance music and the raucous laughter of those still drinking at 3am. The next day I could barely remember your face, but knew you were tall and Scottish. I remembered giving you my number and laughed out loud; as if you’d ever call, I thought. As if you’d ever call.
Everyone is dancing wildly, their clothes drenched in sweat. I see at least five women wearing butterfly wings; most people wear technicolour outfits, and have faces painted with glitter. I take another sip of my coffee, then snap a photo on my phone for Instagram. The time reads 7:14am. This is not your ordinary rave.
How quickly a place can feel like a home. I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days, especially as I’ve now lived in London for nine months, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I remember, years ago, reading the book Zeitoun by Dave Eggers while lying under a mosquito net in Thailand; in it, Zeitoun speaks of his travelling past, and that he knew he’d always settle down somewhere if he either found a woman he loved or a port that he loved. While I won’t speak on the former at the moment, I can certainly speak for the latter. I love London.
The last time I saw you, you were standing under the bright lights of the big city. I only knew you for a few hours. You had a superhero name and crooked teeth and you had never tried an old fashioned until you met me.
These are the details I remember most. I can’t remember now if you have one sister or two, or what your job entails, or what you studied at university.
I met you by chance in one of the biggest cities in the world. Our chemistry was palpable. Within five minutes of meeting I knew where the night was headed. I watched you standing at the bar, waiting for our drinks, and you turned and looked at me just so. You knew it, too.