Part of a writing exercise workshop, thinking back 9 years ago to when I first moved to London and writing back to a friend in NYC about my thoughts and observations about the change:
So here I am after the whirlwind of NYC for so many years, landed in a place that is somehow so similar yet polar opposite. The pace of life here is so much slower, and takes some getting used to. But slowing down feels good. I can hear myself and somehow be more the me than I was able to be before. What frustrated me about New York was everyone was always in your face all the time and I felt a lack of emotional space. Here everyone is so guarded and inside themselves. I think it must be the weather!
The grey skies wrap you like a blanket and you feel comfortable and quiet, calming your emotions. Getting around these streets is so intense! Ive always prided myself of being an avid traveller, but my first week alone I got lost at least 10 x. There is no compass grid system to work with, you swear youre going North and suddenly its South! And with a white sky you cannot see the sun for direction. I realise now how rigid the grid system is, almost violent to our nature as organic beings. The medieval footprint here means you have to meander slowly to get anywhere, instead of pushing though a system of squares and rectangles, there are much more triangles and circles (in this case roundabouts).
I also realise the who I am has changed by sheer context! There are few Latinos, some Americans, almost no real New Yorkers, and I have become much more an exotic of species, shorter and darker by comparison, with too sharp a tongue and too fast a pace. Need to exorcise the New York demon out of me…
One of my favourite things about London is how local it is. A big city that really is a collection of villages, people love and respect the local in a beautiful way. There is pride in the history and stories and Londoners are happy to share it with foreigners and immigrants, so I feel I am able to settle in and become one of many. Its funny only the English from outside of London tend to ask me where I am from, Londoners take it for granted that everyone is from somewhere and may instead ask what I do, or chat about the weather. Actually talking about the weather seems crucial as an ice-breaker. And you’ll never guess, everyone complains its rainy!! How funny is that? I guess it’s a social bonding method to moan and agree about the weather. Note to self, tone down the cheery attitude…
Okay running out of space, love you and more soon!