London, finally

When I began telling people about my impending move to Oxford, a common reaction was, “Oh, you’ll have fun in London!” Or, “Oxford…that’s in London, right?” Really, I can’t blame anyone for thinking that. Oxford is known for its famous university, and probably not much else. Even after proving to some that Oxford is, in fact, an actual city, it was not uncommon to hear, “Oh. Well, you can still go to London on the weekends!”

I spent a semester in London during college, and knew I’d love the chance to return. What I didn’t expect was that I’d fall in love with Oxford as its own entity, considering it much more than just a suburb of that famous metropolitan city well known for its clock tower and falling-down bridge. I didn’t expect to find Oxford satisfying enough to, well, not really be tempted to leave at all.

But the temptation finally arose this week, after finding out my aunt and uncle would be in London for a few days while my cousin attended an English School course. They came into Oxford for the evening; we had dinner, and enjoyed surprisingly gorgeous weather. The next day,I got to leave work a few hours early to hop on a bus and head into the other city.

As soon as I stepped off the bus and into the crowds of Marble Arch, I sort of…regretted it. That sounds pretty terrible. Maybe I’m less of a “city person” than I thought I was, but I had a similar reaction to whatever I feel when I visit NYC. Sure, I like getting out and exploring an exciting place, but there’s something about crowds, busy people pushing their way as they rush rush rush from here to there, that’s just too overwhelming for me. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Oh, happy belated birthday, self– you have to remember you’re 27 now, not 26, which was finally starting to roll of the tongue, effortlessly. I’m 27: saying it will make it seem true, right?

I don’t want this to sound like I hate London. I like it. I particularly like where I am now, in a Harry Potter-esque castle, waiting for my cousin to come back from his school excursion into city centre, battling the same traffic we fought to get here. Funny story: Bought 2 bus tickets –> Sat on bus and moved maybe 2 blocks in 40ish minutes –> got off bus –> Did the smart thing and went underground, £30 poorer from topping up Oyster Cards with a sum that sounded reasonable.

Anyway, this makes me think: did I really love London all that much when I lived here, 6 years ago? Sadly, I was too wrapped up in early-twenties angst to fully enjoy it. Maybe the busy-ness, the sense of overwhelm, was a good distraction at the time. Maybe I’ve just gotten better at filling my days with enjoyment and reflection, engagement and confidence, a sense of self that isn’t a complete embarrassment.

This is getting a little too heavy for what was meant to be a light travel post, but I guess what I love best about being here in London, right now, is that I’m learning about myself. Learning about change. No, the best thing is seeing my family– that emotional crap comes second. Of course, it’s also kind of scary to think that the last time John and I were in London together was after a few months of dating. He visited once, then came back for a second time. I never pictured this kind of future for us, or myself, but I guess the unknown is what keeps life exciting.

And with that, it’s time to get bak to enjoying London, to the fullest extent.

Even if that means taking a break, or a nap, when needed.

11 thoughts on “London, finally”

  1. So glad you got to visit with family. I know exactly how you feel about crowds……people can be obnoxious rude loud and just plain annoying, must be a human flaw we were cursed with, but only become aware of it when we mature or develop an illness that magnifies it.
    We were at Roots Farmers market this past Tues., and the crowd along with strollers unhappy toddlers, senior citizens with their little pull carts about threw me into a panic attack. I said to John, please I must get out of here before I get really ill.
    Now one could blame my age, or my illness, or a combination of both but I just wanted to let you know I related to your feelings when you got off the bus. One gets use to the quiet life style of the burbs or small village an the thought of going to “town” can cause a real headache.
    Well, Clea our spring has finally sprung, that is all but the temperature. I do believe Mother Nature has a bad case of PMS. Even our farmers cannot plant because the ground is still tooooo cold and it gets cold at night, I have two flats of flowers in the garage waiting to be planted as do all the people in the area. Oh well the key word is patience……..wonder if the farmers market sells any of that….time to close…hope the next correspondence I can tell you our great granddaughter has arrived. Stay tuned… and hugs to both
    Aunt Nancy

    1. Glad to know someone else feels the same way about crowds! I’ve never been to Roots, but hear it gets quite busy. I think I get bored with *pure* “town” life, and need a taste of the city once in a while. But the key is the frequency– once in a while is enough. The weather here has been up and down as well. Today is chillier than the end of last week, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

      I don’t think the farmers marked sells patience, but I hear they do have impatiens…ha, ha.

      1. That they do my girl…sell impatience (ha ha) for a pretty penny I might add. even the price of flowers has risen….BTW. my great granddaughter made her debut, Saturday, evening around 10 pm,. what a fantastic miracle…seeing her mommies belly grow and grow over the last 9 months then this beautiful little pink human being appears, and with a wonderful head of hair …not like most little babies who look like peeled onions or as balled as their great great uncle Edgars….and that wonderful smell in their little necks. Too bad they can’t bottle and sell the scent…would make someone a fortune. called New Born Baby…. getting away from the subject…just that I’m in love all over again…oh, where were we…ah yes September…you are right it will be here in a blink of an eye. I know we are a few miles apart but if there is any little thing I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will do my native Sun Dance for a beautiful September Day…that I can do. Till next time keep pumping that bike.
        Love and hugs to both,
        Aunt Nancy

      2. Well as for spending time with her, I guess I will have to take a ticket, just like at the super market at the meat counter and get in line…what with all the aunts and uncles and the other grandmothers. I did, however, get to change her little nappie when she pooped on me…ah sweet memories of life. Unfortunately, she unlikey will never get to know the time she is old enough to retain memories I shall have parted this world for the next. Ah another fantastic journey lies ahead….longevity as you know does not run in our family but we are blessed in other ways.
        A great grandmother…in more ways than one!!!!!

      3. Love that you’re using the British word, “nappie.” I still crack up when I see “nappy changing station” in the bathroom. What, is the baby tired and needs a nappy? John says you have some longevity genes in your family- apparently the women live really long? I’m sure you will get to know little Laura and she’ll remember her great grandma 🙂

  2. I feel right now like if I went back to London I’d be super pumped, cause it’s totally the perfect city! Or that’s how I felt 6 years ago (I think?!). Although you just made me realize it’s probably way better in my head than it actually is. Guess I’ll have to go there soon to figure it out. 🙂

    I don’t remember you being particularly angsty – but I get what you mean. I feel like a different person too, and I’m pretty sure that early 20’s angst added to the experience, in a good way. That and having our Oyster cards paid for.

    1. London is great, don’t get me wrong, but I guess I just prefer not doing much these days. Haha. You do have to come here soon!
      It’s true, London + early 20s angst makes for a unique experience. I just would like to go back now, with all the benefits (Oyster cards and free rent) and none of the internal drama.

  3. Hi Clea, so good to hear from you through your blog again. I didn’t realize London was so crowded and that it took so long for busses to move along! That would make me more than crazy too. Good that you had a chance to visit with your family members though.
    Speaking of family, I was just lamenting on the phone to Aunt Nancy about how hard it is to have you and John living far away. It’s a Friday evening and I feel like you and John should be walking in the front door soon to spend a weekend in Amish country!
    The cats and Schrecky are sleeping a lot today; kind of nice that they are not pestering!

    1. It may be a little less crowded when it’s not a Friday afternoon :). Bus traffic was nuts, though. Note to self: stick to the tube (subway). It was nice seeing my cousin– he basically said hi, bye, and then ran off to a party with his classmates.

      I miss being able to visit you more often, too! But September will come before you know it.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:39 PM, Clea Writes

  4. Goodness gracious I forgot to tell you baby Marschka’s name…what a dizzy great-grandmother: Laura Scott Marschka..6 pounds, 4 oz. TA DA

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