Before I left Canada I had a romantic vision of you in my head. I thought I would arrive and love you, with the abundance you have to offer. What I found upon visiting, once, twice, three times, was that you were all right. I couldn’t work up more enthusiasm than that.
Then, later, after leaving my home in Edinburgh and travelling awhile, I thought maybe I’d give you a proper go. I could stay and find a job and get to know you better. We might become friends, I thought.
Our personalities clashed from the start, I’m afraid. My small town soul was no match for you crushing urbanity. You’re so bloody…big. I spent my life deciphering transit maps and smushing myself into the tube instead of enjoying a walk to work, to the pub. I felt anonymous in a brand new way – a way that can only be brought on by being surrounded by eight million people who don’t give a shit about you. I lived in a lovely house with lovely people, thank god, because the overwhelming prospect of weaving my way through the city, coupled with the weather’s endless dreariness, made me never want to leave the house. Ever. But leave it I did, only to get lost and miss bus stops at 2 a.m. or be nearly shoved aside by a woman to whom I’d given 50p because she was short of bus fare, or accosted by a suit-wearing middle-aged man at my pub because I wouldn’t serve him a glass of red wine past closing time.
(“Where are YOU from?” he’d demanded when my Canadian co-worker and I told him he wouldn’t be served. “You want to know where I’m from? ENGLAND”, as if it meant licensing laws didn’t apply to him. When we convinced him his behaviour wasn’t getting him any closer to a drink, he stole a wine glass and smashed it on the pavement on his way out the door.)
So no, London, it was clear you didn’t want to be my friend, and the feeling was mutual. I couldn’t get a flat because I didn’t have a spare £1,000 kicking about, and I couldn’t take the train to work because that would cost £30 a week. I felt like you were trying to strangle me, and the only way to breathe again was to run, far and fast.
I did. I ran. Back to Edinburgh, the love of my life, where I took a deep breath and set off on foot and fell instantly back into a rhythm of life that fit me, perfectly.
And so I accepted it, that I’ll never love you. I’ll see you again, because I have to, because you’re the hub of the world and because there are some lovely people amongst your masses who I want to see again.
I am glad we tried though, London, because like any relationship, I learned a great deal about myself from our demise.