When things are going well in London, they are going super well. When they are going a bit shit, well… they are going super shitty. If you haven’t guessed it by now, this post is about the times that this city becomes intolerable. Today was one of them.
Oh sure, the fog was thick in the air and Big Ben was singing a song in the distance as I crossed the bridge over the Thames. After all, people have been taking pictures of that shit for years, but today, no matter how much beauty I was surrounded by, TODAY JUST SUCKED.
I am going to fill you in on a little myth about moving to London/moving to a country that you always desired to move to in the past. Things will not always be perfect. Despite being in a totally awesome mood 80% of the time, there are going to be occasions where you feel utterly in despair, where you want to throw a tantrum on every street corner. And, no amount of cute/quaint shops and ‘Londonness’ is going to remedy that.
This week was hard. First, I got the flu which kept me away from an insanely busy work-week. Secondly, I was broken up with for the second time that I have been dating the city. What sucked about this time is that me and Mr. Irish (I may as well call him that) were supposed to go on a long-weekend trip to Cambridge, but he changed his mind the day before we were set to leave. Third, I was hired for a job and then the job fell through. This is after I had declined several other amazing offers in the past month. Lastly, my super new, awesome flat is starting to lack luster as well. My flatmate has a new love interest who is spending too much time at the flat.
Yup. My parade has been pissed on badly this week.
After you have lived in London for some time, some of the stuff that used to cheer us right up when we first arrived such as a walk in the park, or a jaunt through a gallery just doesn’t cut it anymore.
I noticed today as I walked through hoards of tourists through Whitehall on my way to Charing Cross that there was so little of that magic surrounding me. I thought I would cheer myself up and meet a friend at a pub, but first I would walk around the National Gallery and treat myself to a cup of tea and a new book.
By the time I got to the bookstore, I was drenched from head to toe in rain. Despite the super industrial umbrella, leather boots and raincoat, the weather still got the best of me. As I huddled with my paper cup of tea in the Hard-Cover Fiction section of Waterstones, I peered across the street at Trafalgar Square where no less than a trillion tourists struggled to take one-armed photographs while slapping each other on the head with their umbrellas. National Gallery? No thanks. I’ll pass today.
Eventually I ended up in front of Liberty waiting for my friend to arrive. At this point, I was a miserable solid block of ice. I could hear the water sloshing between my cold wet toes and even my supposed rain coat had given up in trying to keep me warm. As I tried to regain my composure so that I wouldn’t be a total kill-joy by the time my friend arrived, I tried again to marvel at my surroundings so that I would remind myself that I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Just as that happened, a woman crashed into me with her enormous shopping bag and speared me with her umbrella.
Before I moved here I would fixate on photos such as the ones that I posted above. Even in the rain, after a break-up, hell even an apocalypse, I would imagine that London could cure any malaise.
There is that part of becoming an expat that people rarely speak about. It is moment when you realize that London is just not in enough of itself good enough to take away some of your bad days. I am confident that the next time I stand in front of Liberty or have a beer in my favourite pub, I will be overcome with electricity and excitement because my London will be pretty again. Until then, I will try not to force myself to see this city in a certain way.