19 February 2008

The votes are in

For some odd reason I am not run off my feet today. So I’m stopping in for a proper update, for anyone still interested.

I don’t know if it’s possible to fall for a place, but if it were possible, then I think London might be the place for me after all. I admit that I found Vancouver’s superficial charms (trees, fresh air, mountains) rather titillating over Christmas, but complicated, smelly, cynical London is my one true love.

It’s difficult to explain because I spent so many weeks hating everything about it – the smells, the crowds, the attitudes (cultural and social) and the impossible great maze of it all. Even the loveliest things about the city seemed trite.

Once I stopped objectifying the experience and concentrated on living, however, I noticed how very attached I am to its unique attributes. I don’t think I can ever set foot in a venue for film or music that is older than a few hundred years, for instance. The funny, ill-timed lights and impassive pedestrians; the half-giddy stair decent while the bus is still moving; the unpredictable nature of a building’s insides, its façade giving nothing away – I just couldn’t imagine a life without these things.

And that’s only the clockwork – I haven’t quite nailed down what I find so satisfying about the quaint conventions of shopping and cooking, or of restaurants even. No customer service is replaced by a sense of privacy, and that extends to social relationships. Do you ever get the feeling that you can almost see what any given friend might be up to at any given moment? Well I don’t – not any more. Your guess is as good as mine, and actually, I don’t even have a clear idea of my own spatial or temporal location. Spontaneity isn’t a way of life here, it’s pretty much mandatory.

Waking up in London is a bit like waking up in Disney Land, if you’re a kid, and you’re the sort of kid who likes entertainment parks. The basic elements are the same, but you can expect to have a very different day-to-day experience, no matter what you had in mind.

Another ex-pat and friend of mine once said that London washes over you – whether it’s in a good or bad way depends on your frame of mind. Before Christmas, Bruce and I had hit a wall here. We resented anything and everything that got in the way of our divine right to sit in front of the television, cuddling and eating sour Skittles. It was all London’s fault that we sometimes had to leave the sofa, and Vancouver became our Atlantis.

Then Bruce went to Jordan for work and I went through the motions by myself for a week. When he got back, we both realised how good we have it here, and that we stand an even better chance of doing the things we want to do by staying put.

So I guess we’re staying after all. I’m happy with that decision on a number of levels, the main one being that I think I could get to know myself even more, outside the context and constraints of ‘home’. More than that, I needed to choose this life with both options open, so that I could be sure it’s what I really want. And it is.

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