My relationship with London is one of difference, of love and defeat, best and bad, bitter and sweet. It’s been nearly six years since I arrived here from Australia. I hated London in the first few months. Having grown up in Bunbury and then having lived one year in the Northern Territory before arriving at London, its 14 million population was a shock to the system. There were people everywhere! And I felt smoother But for the first time, I also felt like I could just be me. I didn’t feel like I had to show anything to anyone because, in London, people just accept you. Anything goes!
I both love and hate London equally. London’s underground soon lost its originality a few months after I arrived. I love traveling on the underground now, especially on the weekends when all the tourists get in my way. I also love the culture of the city, the architecture of the buildings, and all the open green places. I love the restaurants, the West End, and walking along the Thames, and Southbank. I have become such a Londoner, that when I lived with friends in Kent for four weeks one summer, I not only missed London but was happy every time I took the train there for the day!
But I hate how expensive it’s to live here, and the impact of these costs on our lifestyle. The price of rent and travel alone is a financial crime to widowed/single working middle-class individuals. If I could afford to live here, in my own one bedroom garden flat, and maintain my lifestyle, which includes the regular need to jet off to discover some place in the world, I would stay.
I love the variety of cultures here in London. In spite of growing up in, and traveling to many other multicultural cities around the world, there’s something special and unique about London. There’s not only a receiving of diversity in a city with more than 200 different nationalities but also a celebration of all these different cultures, religions and people of London. I love attending festivals in Trafalgar Square that celebrate Ramadan, Diwali, LGBT Pride and Chinese New Year.
I met the love of my life here in London. Those four years together are some of the best I’ve ever had, exploring Europe and the world with him. But with love, sometimes there is a loss in the most tragic of conditions, and in his death, London has now become very bittersweet for me. Full of memories of our amazing life that makes me laugh and cry, smile and glower, feel both joy and deep sadness.
I leave London in four weeks to begin a four-month vacation. Will my love-hate relationship with London continue once I leave? Can I live without London, or will it always draw me back in? I guess time will tell!