This is my 13th day in London.
It feels weird to say that. It both feels like I’ve been here forever, and like I’m on holiday and it must be coming to an end. I think it was last Thursday, as I was emailing my parents my London snail mail address, that it first hit me: I live in London.
I live in London.
I’ve done so many amazing things in the fortnight I’ve been here. I’ve eaten fish and chips. I’ve seen Big Ben. I’ve ridden the tube. I’ve visited the Tate Britain, St. Paul’s, the Monument, and the British Museum. I’ve been to Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. I’ve (window) shopped on Oxford Street and Regent Street. I’ve been to pubs and karaoke nights. I know what white coffee is and that I have to bag my own groceries at Sainsbury’s. I’ve walked so much that I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have blisters and my old sprained ankle is acting up. I’ve seen Chinatown and Soho. I’ve been less than thirty feet from Prince William and Kate Middleton. I’ve taken a bus tour and made plans to see the Tower of London. I’ve passed for a local and been an obnoxious American who takes goofy touristy photos.
But today was excessively, completely, utterly normal. I woke up late, missed breakfast in the dining hall, scurried off to class, and then hid out in the library for several hours. Tonight I’ll go home, eat, and tumble into bed, too tired to even think of heading to a pub or a club (even though Monday is the big night for going out).
In fact, today was so normal that I kind of wondered if I was wasting it. When there’s so much to see, it seems silly to be in the library all day.
An anecdote for you: The other day, I walked to the Tate Britain to see an exhibition for my art history class. It takes about 50 minutes to walk from my dorm to the gallery. Along the way, you pass Trafalgar Square and Parliament. It was a Saturday morning, so when I started out, the city was nearly empty. Londoners don’t bother waking up early on the weekends. But as I neared the big tourist stops, I suddenly found myself being pushed and shoved around by masses of people. Fortunately, I made it through the crowd alive, only to find that the streets once again belonged to me as soon as I was a safe distance from the exciting touristy bits.
The brilliant part of all this? Yes, sometimes I am a tourist. But I also am a Londoner. I have the time, the leisure, to wander from place to place, to see the touristy bits and the stuff in between.
And so I consider these ordinary days the stuff in between. Not as thrilling or crowded or exciting, certainly, but beautiful and peaceful in their own way. Rather than rushing headlong from destination to destination, I am lucky enough to get to stop along the way, sit in a café with some tea, and see London the way a Londoner does.