London and myself have in recent years fallen out of love. I lived there for 10 years before I decided to leave and go to pastures new. I had grown tired of the commute,the people and the humdrum of life that came with the daily grind. I’d started resenting its culture, people and the way it seemed to throw things back in my face. I had given it my heart and soul and at the time, I felt it had given very little back. It was time for me to leave and distance myself before the relationship became toxic.
That was two years ago and I find myself travelling back to this disconcerting city. As soon as I stepped out of Euston Station, it hit me. I’m not in Shropshire anymore! The hustle and bustle, the honking of car horns, the constant rumble of buses and then there is that distinct smell. It hits you in the face as soon as you walk out the doors – your nostrils burn with the mixtures of fumes from diesel guzzling cars and buses, mixed with a hint of greasy food, stale urine and despair. Even on that first crisp January morning with the sun on my face I missed the comforting green green hills of home. Yet this strange city still manages to hold its allure, the longer you’re here, the deeper you delve into its streets the more you are drawn in, just like I was those 12 years ago, young, hopeful and in love.
Over the last week, I have discovered that my opinion has changed considerably and I am willing to give London a second chance. The anger and resentment has slowly melted away. I am not sure if it because I have had time on my hands and am finally able to look up and really stare at it for the first time, or that I have changed and am able to see past its flaws but slowly I feel we are becoming friends again.
The realisation hit me on day four on the way back to the hostel that I wasn’t hating it and I wasn’t trying to escape. In fact I was embracing it. I walked taller, enjoying the familiar streets I used to pound, taking in the sounds of a city and taking deep breathes of that cold polluted air. From walking the beautiful Southbank with its murky secretive river to getting lost in the seedy alleyways of Soho with its grimy bars and restaurants. London was out to prove itself and it was doing a good job. It showcased its privately run cinemas, parks, bars and culture taking my breath away with it beauty. I felt the love coming back and it felt good, I felt renewed, hopeful and left full of promise.
As this week draws to an end London has wooed me again, and the past feelings of indifference I once had, have been left behind. It has redeemed itself and shown me what it has to offer. London and I look at each other now not with the hatred we once had, but with a mutual respect that only comes from sharing something special.