Last week I was walking along Aldwych in the rain (my favourite street in London), heading toward the bus stop after work. I peaked out from under my umbrella and looked up at the autumn leaves turning brown, touched along the edges with yellow, the streetlights illuminating them against the dark night sky, and I realised how familiar this walk, this street, this city is becoming to me.
I like the new, the unfamiliar, the unknown as well as the process of making yourself at home in a strange place. I always begin by following small routines, retracing my steps till the sights, sounds and experiences become familiar. Everything astonishes, surprises or irritates – emotions run on a constant high.
As my centre becomes more stable and confidence grows with measured experience, I expand my world, slowly but surely. I begin to talk in milestones – ‘three months since…’, ‘six months since…’, ‘a year since…’ It’s such a fabulous time.
The next stage is quite exciting too, when talk of milestones turns into talk of traditions, ‘We always go there in the spring…’ and ‘We always do this at Christmas…’. It’s a way of marking the moments we’ve made along the journey. And having it be ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ is something that I’m still treasuring every day.
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ — Samuel Johnson