Back in 2018, which now feels like ages ago , and certainly belonging in the BC (before Covid) era, I wrote a love letter… to the greatest city on Earth, called London. If you like, you can read it by clicking on the link below:
It was very well received, perhaps by virtue of finding a resonance in reader’s hearts. Over more recent years, my love for London only depeened, and we found ourselves still together in this new world, the “new normal”, the apocalyptic times of transition.
My long term partner in crime is still a place I call home. I’m not going to lie, I tried leaving him once again - for sunny Athens, capital of Greece. But after spending 8 months there , a rather long holiday romance, I inevitably returned to the love of my life. He didn’t welcome me with open arms. To be honest, I think he has had enough of my hot and cold behaviour by now. He knows he is not easy to live in, and yet he’s been kind to me, we made it work. This relationship is highly transformative - it inspires me to grow, to get out of my comfort zone, to become a better version of myself . But every time I return from a longer time abroad, reversing my decision to live in a warmer country, my beloved gives me such a hard time.
Perhaps it is only fair, perhaps by now I should of made up my mind. But I love the freedom, the breath of fresh air, the spirit of exploration. Ironically, all of the above I get in his arms. If only I could handle the challenging times with some patience and understanding.
I’ve been told numerous times that I have expensive taste, and this city is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world. The weather, albeit not as miserable as the stereotype would have you believe, still isn’t exactly great.
So what is it then, that still keeps me coming back for more, despite my loyalty being tested by the novelty of more exotic locations? It’s simple really - I don’t find what I’ve got here, anywhere else. At first it may seem like I do, but on the closer inspection, boredom and disappointment inevitably present themselves. On the other hand, London’s spirit , his energy is one of a kind; and if you happen to be compatible with it, you simply will never find its equal anywhere else. But then, I would say that wouldn’t I? Clearly I’m biased.
Perhaps not, as there is even a famous quote by Samuel Johnson that mirrors my feelings:
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
The times we live in are very different from those belonging to the era of the above quote. Perhaps this is my excuse for escaping him occasionally, after all modern times are made for travel. If anything, I even left my home country to be with him. He always knew I liked my freedom, it’s one of the reasons we clicked in the first place. I don’t even get bored with him, no - but at times I do get tired, like in any big city - life here can resemble the running of a hamster in a wheel. This is when I know things must change, but I don’t always know in what way. The escape seems to be a solution, a medicine to clear one’s head, and get a new perspective. But of course, there is always a risk of becoming infatuated with another land. I’m only human. And yet, my heart seems to be taken, it does belong to him. And every time we try again, I’m amazed that I still experience the butterflies of a new relationship. That’s exactly what happened the other day:
Sometimes work takes me to parts of London that are quite central, yet aren’t massively familiar to me. Parts that have a beautiful architecture so full of charm that is hard to describe. Architecture that tells a story without words, by aesthetics alone. And I get this exciting feeling of being acquainted with this town for the very first time. As if I have just moved here, don’t yet have any acquaintances, let alone friends, and can hardly speak the language. It is a fresh start, a new beginning in this mysterious land, rich with history and culture, in fact multiple cultures under one roof. The feeling of an adventure , the need for exploration kick in and leave me breathless once again.
London is the literal embodiment of the saying “variety is the spice of life.” Perhaps this is why I love this city despite its challenges. It is multifaceted, which means I can never get bored with it… like a partner who you never stop learning about , a partner so interesting , there is always another side to him that is ready to be revealed. An enigma, a storyteller who has seen and learned a lot. There is depth, there is mystery that keeps you guessing, despite all the familiarity in the world. In the presence of a partner like that, you never quite stop learning about yourself too.
London has introduced me to myself and my many aspects. A wild child, a party goer and free spirit. A bookworm, an academic mind tasting different schools of thought , forever expanding my mind. A spiritual seeker, a truth speaker, a glamorous model, a silly , at times goofy girl next door who is always up for a laugh and a beer in a pub, followed by a shawarma in a Lebanese place. A mental health advocate, willing to speak about the heavier, darker aspects of humanity to anyone who is not afraid to listen. An authentic transparent kind, who is very open about her own struggles, in the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. At times hedonistic, bohemian type , very familiar with certain addictions, yet luckily able to shake them off eventually. A bookshop assistant, a restaurant receptionist, an occasional actress. I didn’t know I am all that, even if at times she sounds like a walking contradiction. I lived so many lives, and played so many roles in this city. Some of them I’m less proud of than others. And yet, I honour all those versions of myself, all the experiences that helped to shape me and led me back to myself. London, you held the mirror and showed me my soul, and to this day continue helping to reveal more layers of my personality . And I love you for it.
Going back to my original article from 2016 and the puzzle story, I was reminded of it the other day while watching a movie. The character was giving a speech, and compared all of our lives to the books and puzzles. Then he said a phrase that summed it up for me nicely: “Learning to be patient, searching what fits.” Well, I guess this is it, London. Me and you, we just fit.
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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This is excellent 😄 Love the dynamic of London being your ‘one true love.’ It made me nostalgic for my own one true-love city! I suppose I’ll need to go and visit him soon…
I just got back from a trip to London and I wholeheartedly resonate with your piece - the dedication to diversity in people, food, architecture, history and fashion stuck out to me - it really is unparalleled.
Although, London is a place some one must love. The writer description was okay and fine. It's wonderful. Extremely good of you.
I always wanted to go to the U.K. !
I'm a New Yorker who lives in London (most of the time, anyhow); love this piece. Wonder if you have been to the Mithraeum... I think you will enjoy on your next visit!
I hope it all happens soon!
I was born in Illinois USA! I have never been to London, but it is one place I will always want to go. I am thinking next year!
My favorite quote about London: “I love London society. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics.” Oscar Wilde. Your story truly characterizes this!
Great story Eva 👏 Thanks for being an early Vocal contributor. It’s a blast from the past reading your story from 2018. Looking forward to reading your future stories.
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