London, beloved city where today I make my restless home – it’s a unique place for sure. There was a slight burst of sun today, breaking through the thick clouds, hope for the weary and vitamin D deprived. I walk quickly, through the ever wet and steamy streets of Soho, feeling werewolf but looking more tourist.
No one looks you in the face here, as we are centimeters apart, each trying to hold our own, in the cold. The freeze gets in your bones, and it could last a lifetime. You could be lonely here in a crowd. If I lived here always, and no one ever met my gaze, I could see myself dying young.
I had thought this was the quintessential city of cold shoulders and constant turning away, all through my youthful visits, when I carried a backpack on a frame, before turning it in for my fine Apsinal handbag when I reached 40.
This was before I knew how to pick the locks of this mysterious place. If you look in their eyes first, if you risk the tiniest bit of your heart, if you ask for directions or for a moment of someone’s time, the Londoner will immediately come to your aid. The frost melts in a but a moment, their hearts shine on you like the hot glow of a towel rail. Their helpful answers are peppered with “love” and “darling” and “poppet”. If you are lost, the Londoner will walk you to the nearest tube station and find the right train. Your drinks will be bought, your coat and hat hung up by the door, your foreign sadness illuminated by the humanizing touch of understanding.
The Londoner will light you up and not slight you up and I never realized it until now that I am almost old: the deep enduring truth is that the coldest places are actually, secretly, quietly, the warmest.
I love London.