Hi everyone, as a first piece on this refreshed version of this blog and by way of introduction, I am reposting a summary of my London story I loved writing last year. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much I liked writing it.
Last July I had lived in London for exactly 10 years. Not really sure what happened to all this time, I gave myself a little challenge: to write my story in one sitting, in 500 words. Here is what came out.
I first moved to Shepherds Bush, West London, in 2006, in a house above a roti shop with three girls, Sandra, Anita, Alison…and Alessio, our temporary Italian lodger.
I had come to London before. I had stayed for the weekend in a hostel in Bayswater with my dear friend Julie. We shared bunk beds and a dirty sink; we took our showers on the landing. We wandered around Camden in baggy pants, taking rock-chick poses with tube signs. We even managed to get a decent tattoo in a broken English.
I was 21 when I rented my first room in Sheperds Bush and I loved it. The rusty stair-case, the leaky shower and Joseph, the weed-smoking Roti shop owner and guardian of our back-alley. Lilly Allen was the only singer in my CD player. I was free. It was a happy place.
I made friends I still have today and learnt to speak with a better accent. Sandra and I stayed up all night re-doing the world. We moaned about work and laughed about men in our kitchen-living room. I ate only green beans, she cooked home-made curries.
In the midst of this sensory world-wind, I swore I would never leave. This was my place and as if this wasn’t a good enough reason to stick around, I also fell in love with a local I eventually married.
In 2008, I actually left London behind for almost a year and packed my bags for Bangkok, Thailand. I wanted to feel what being far away felt like again. Once again, I had no family, no friends, no history, just the blank page of a big city. It was hot, it smelt of stir-fry and I loved it…but this is another story.
I moved back to London in 2009 with the man I still loved. Coming back felt strange, things had changed, I had changed. I worked in a quiet Indian furniture shop in Stoke Newington for a few months. Daydreaming mostly, writing a dissertation slowly.
I met the colourful Chafik, a fellow shop-assistant from the vintage shop opposite. I loved his exuberance and the way he wrapped printed scarves around his hipster clientele. It was grand.
We drunk coffees in the sunshine outside our boutiques, talked across the street and danced around behind our glass windows. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. One day I would be an Art dealer, the next I would save the world but maybe ‘I should consider going into Marketing…it pays better after all.’ I was looking for a purpose and so did he.
One day my shop owner called me. The shop was closing. The bailiffs had come and she was leaving for Kent to live on a farm with her daughters. I kept the shop’s now useless set of keys for many years, for no reason. In fact, I might still have them, somewhere.
Chafik went back to Paris and I stayed in London with my boyfriend. Chafik chose not to impose himself a definite life-purpose. After all he was Art and Art is fluid.
I started to build a life here and a list of favourite restaurants, cafes and streets. I have my regular friends, husband and colleagues. I plan my trips to Paris and my parents don’t feel like seeing anymore sights when they visit. I have days when I want to give up the mad-rush of London life but the background noises of the city still keeps me happy. I live here and I feel lucky.
It is now 2016 and I have jumped in the future. The 21 year old girl who stepped in Shepherds Bush in 2006 is about to start the next big project of her life. Although sometimes she is worried about settling here. It’s true, the pavements are quite grubby. She is still in love with London. She knows it hasn’t finished to inspire her and there is much more fun to be discovered behind all its street corners.
To be continued…