I have lived in London forever, even when I left for university, I was never too far away and, despite the cost, I came back after graduation. This is my third year living in the city independently and I’ve been asking myself, “Do I want to leave London?”
I hate London. I hate the expense, the noise, the litter, the gentrification, the unforgiving nature of the city. At times, I feel like London hates me back. It drains you, it really does. And I look to my friends, the ones that have moved here from elsewhere — be that the North of England or somewhere else in Northern Hemisphere — and I wish I could see it through their eyes. A city of opportunity before it chews you up and spits you out into the Thames with everyone else.
So, I look at my options. All my options can be summed up into “Not London” and I suppose that’s it. You either live in London or you don’t. There’s no in between. Does that mean, if I were to leave, I would no longer be in this exclusive club? Would I be giving up on London? Or giving myself to somewhere new?
I’ve considered Surrey, I’ve considered Edinburgh, I’ve considered Christchurch, New Zealand. I’ve considered London. I think of all the things I won’t have and what I will. Of course, it’s always going to frightening going somewhere new, but it’s worth it, isn’t it?
If I were to leave, what else would I be leaving? Not just some family and friends. But, walks along canals; good pho; good Korean barbeque; good curry goat; good pasta; late tube journeys; vintage shops; markets; buses through town; tourist-y things when you’re not a tourist; the comforting dull of the city every other day. I think about how all these things are so convenient. Britain itself lacks culture, but London allows for cultures to thrive in diaspora and that is not found in many places.
I realise that there is so much I love about London and so many experiences and opportunities I will not find pleasantly stirred together like this anywhere else.
I have made no solid decisions about whether I stay or leave, but I do have to come to terms with the fact that London will never love me back. I’ll repeat that to myself until I understand it.
London will never love me back.
It does not matter how angry I am at the city, at the people that run it, at the people that live in it. London doesn’t care.