I fell hard for London. From the moment I set foot there I’ve felt a kinship with it that’s hard for me to pinpoint. I just know that, no matter how long it’s been since my last visit, it always feels like home.
Well, maybe not always. There’s always a transition period in any city you live in or visit. One night I missed the last tube home from a club (the Sausage Machine in Mornington Crescent, probably). I was broke. So, no cab for me. And I didn’t want to wait for a night bus.
So I walked.
It was this beautiful, cool, clear night.
I was a little scared, because I didn’t know the city all that well. And I was a little scared, because I knew I shouldn’t be walking on my own so late at night.
But I didn’t really care.
I wandered through neighborhood after neighborhood. Through Leicester Square, down Charing Cross, through a Picadilly Circus empty of tourists but still bathed in that warm, garish neon glow. Past Green Park —also eerily quiet. Occasionally I passed an inebriated businessman trying to walk it off a little before he got into a cab to go home. Past darkened shop windows —fancy high street shops I’d at that point never even dared to go into. I wasn’t afraid to linger and look when the lights were dark, though.
Kensington Palace was dark, the gates shut. By contrast, Royal Albert Hall was all lit up —preening and a bit smug even in the quiet of early morning.
I was listening to a brand-new cassette tape of the as-yet-unreleased Throwing Muses album “University” and, rounding the corner to my street while Kristin Hersh sang, “Shake barrels of whiskey down my throat, I still see straight,” I suddenly got it. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Somehow, on my long, winding walk, and in my bleary-eyed, blissful state, London had transformed into home. And it was certainly home when I put my key in the lock at my little, shabby flat on Queen’s Gate, tip-toeing in so as not to wake the roommates (all five of them —I can’t even remember their names at all, except for the one we’d inexplicably nicknamed “Fluffy Bunny”).
And it’s still a home that always welcomes me with open arms, even when I go away and forsake it for other, lesser cities.
And on that note, I’m off to London for a few days. I’ll see Kristin Hersh there. Should be fun. Have a good week everyone!