Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I love London

I was sitting on the tube this afternoon listening to my Ipod as usual, when a realisation hit me like a tidal wave. The answer to why I love London so much. I' first came to London when I was about to turn fifteen. The reason behind the visit was that I had attempted suicide. I don't want to go in to that in this post, but relates to
this post
On leaving hospital my parents, who tried to bury their heads in the sand back then thought it would be a good idea for us to get away for the weekend. So they booked a trip to London, and I remember crying and saying I didn't want to go. Back then it was a struggle to even get out of bed in the morning and pull myself through each day and the thought of going away for an action packed weekend, and trying to act like everything was ok tore me up inside. But when we arrived I felt the pull of the city. For those of you who haven't been, and even those who have and just don't feel it, I think there is a buzz to London, an energy that I haven't felt anywhere else I've been. It's in the city's history, the architecture, the exclusive hotels that cater to the stars, the tourists taking pictures, the joggers running with the Thames, the blasting car horns, the millions of cyclists on the road that everyone curses, the expensive houses that no one can really afford to buy unless they are filthy rich and then what Americans would call the Gettoe or the Projects. It's in the people, from the professional business people in suits working in huge office buildings, to the homeless people and the prostitutes and the pimps and the rent boys. I felt this energy the first time I visited, and although I was deeply depressed at the time, something lifted my spirits and I actually managed to make the most of the time we spent here. I returned many times after that, to visit friends I had made who lived in London, and then to spend time with DL's family when we were together. I had known for a long time that I wanted to live here, I felt as though it were my destiny to do so, but I never really knew why. And today I think I finally figured it out. I love London because I feel I belong here. I fit in here, I don't stand out, either as a gay woman, or as a blind woman. I can travel around this city, the biggest city in the UK by myself because of the underground system, , something I struggle to do anywhere else. I don't have to rely on anyone, if I want to go somewhere, I just go. For most people that is perfectly normal anyway, but it never has been for me. I know I don't talk about my blindness much on here and that's because I firstly don't see it as something that defines who I am, and I wouldn't want other people to think of it as my defining quality either. But being able to just up and go somewhere, travel for an hour, two hours to get to the other side of the city is something I can do here as easily as making a cup of tea and it's something I marvel at every time I do it. As soon as I go anywhere else I either have to spend a fortune on cabs, or rely on some one to drive me places because like I said, the underground system hasn't beenn recreated anywhere else in the UK. And it's not just that. The things that I can do here as a gay woman, pick a group for each night of the week to go to and meet people, go to discussions at gay book shops, go to lesbian sex parties, women only bars, gay festivals, gay cafes, all this creates such a sense of belonging. I mean sure of course there are homophobes here, that goes without saying, it's just the enormity of what I as a lesbian am able to do is phenominal. So I think I've figured out why it feels more like home than anywhere else I've ever lived. Because the two things that have been hardest to deal with in my life, both for myself and other people, my lesbianism and my blindness, well neither of them are a battle in this city. They are accepted, they are encouraged, supported, aided. Sure it gets lonely sometimes, it can feel like the harshest and loneliest city in the world at times because it is so big and there are so many people. But when people say to me, "how can you live in London, it's so intimidating," I smile and say, "it's not intimidating, it's amazing, and it's my home. It's where I belong."

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