Thursday, July 28, 2016

London dreaming

It took me at least a fortnight to get over my jet-lag.  My husband, generally similar in sleep-habits to myself, and even my two infant children, were sleeping soundly through the night within days.  But here I have been, insanely tired, yet unable to make myself sleep before sun-down in London.

This is not unusual for me.  Weeks of troubled sleep and dreamlike living are familiar accompaniments to a return to Perth from London.  But this time a new interpretation presented itself: is this long-recovery time physical, or psychological?  Does it take my body weeks to heal from a change of time-zone, or my soul?

After all, London is not just a city to me: it is my other home, my other love, my other life.  If where-I-live is my husband, then London is my lover.  (You will notice I have written "where-I-live", not "Perth"... Perth and I are not married.  Just because we grew up together does not mean we have to wed.)  After an intoxicating month with my lover, it is natural for reality to be a little hard to settle in to.

I feel part of the world in London, at the centre of things.  I love being in a "proper" city, with vibrancy and activity and importantly, not just a large number of residents, but a large number of transient people.  Students, tourists, visiting artists, new immigrants and potential new immigrants... these people give a city of sense of being part of the entire world.  I love the history and culture, walking amongst a living museum, stopping for a pint at any street corner - because they all have a kitsch or cool or ancient pub.  And of course I'm half-English.  I love being in the "green and pleasant land" that is the home of half my kin.  Walking through the gentle, pretty, sprawling parks under mild English skies is so beautiful to me it hurts.  Being with my London loved-ones makes me miss them before we've parted.

I feel sad at how quickly life moves on without me when I leave, at how much I am missing.  But I notice it is a romantic melancholy that overtakes me, a wistful longing for a dream, not a reality.  This trip, with children, showed me that while I love London, I don't think I should settle there.  Perth has spoilt me in practical terms: my expectations for my standard of living could simply never be realised in London.  Perhaps even worse, the everyday inconveniences, incompetencies and downright unfriendliness that Londoners put up with - grumble about, but also accept - are unacceptable to me.  I just don't think I could live with it long-term.  So there is a sadness even while I am still in London.  I have come to the tragic conclusion that trying to marry my lover would likely destroy our love.

I also notice how uncreative I was in London; I did no writing of any kind.  But another part of our trip had me, and still has me, feeling rather upbeat.  I think of this other city and feel excited, not wistful.  For how I feel about my potential new home (my long-awaited husband-city?!), watch this space for my next piece... on Berlin.