London Calling


“As for the mass of streets, squares, and public buildings which parted them, she only felt at this moment how little London had done to make her love it, although thirty of her forty years had been spent in a street. She knew how to read the people who were passing her; there were the rich who were running to and from each others’ houses at this hour; there were the bigoted workers driving in a straight line to their offices; there were the poor who were unhappy and rightly malignant. Already, though there was sunlight in the haze, tattered old men and women were nodding off to sleep upon the seats. When one gave up seeing the beauty that clothed things, this was the skeleton beneath.”
The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

I have wanted to go to London since I was a disaffected youth in high school listening to The Smiths, The Cure and of course The Sex Pistols. Punk Rock was the vehicle that gave me friends, acceptance and connection at a time in my life when I only felt lonely and alone. I have traveled to Europe before, Italy twice and Paris, but London has always been held in my mind as a mecca of sorts. The birthplace of Punk. So, it was with shock and dismay that the week I was there recently that I felt nothing…I didn’t hate London, how could I, the feel and pulse of a large city is always thrilling. The shops and restaurants, learning to navigate the underground and coming from the American Midwest being able to walk down the street and see people of different cultures and hearing all the different languages being spoken was joyous. But, I didn’t love it, I guess the real London could never live up to the London of my imaginings for the last twenty-five years. Though I have to say, I would travel to London and farther afield for the night I spent there with friends in a Turkish restaurant, eating delicious food, drinking too much wine and having awesome discussions on race and art and life and human connection.

While I was there I couldn’t help but think about the author of He is, or rather was, going to blog for a hundred days about the pain he is experiencing after a recent break-up. A large part of the blog entailed his plans to move to London and how when he got there he was going to be assured love and happiness. I too have felt, too often felt, as Rimbaud stated “True life is elsewhere”. Such a deceptive lure. I love to say that quote alot to my bestfriend, though I really get the whole Life Is Elsewhere from the Milan Kundera book rather than from the Rimbaud poem, we laugh, and it is funny, but at some point I need to start living my life that is here and stop dreaming of a life that is elsewhere. Sigh. I hope we both find what we are looking for.