London is vast, and when you are born here she stamps her mark on you. You can say Goodbye To London, but London never really leaves you. I was reminded of that just the other night while chatting with friends, as one of them said “You have an advantage over most women here, your accent is sooooo sexy!” Goodbye To London
I floated through the fall and winter of 1989 in a fog, I stayed with my mother and worked odd jobs; I had no focus and had no clue as to what I wanted to do. The boy/young man I had met at camp stayed in contact and a romance blossomed. Then out of nowhere it seemed to me, he called and said, “If I get you a job and a place to stay will you come back? Will you give it a go?” That December I turned 20, and again boarded a plane to America; that day was the last day I lived in London for over 18 months.
I boarded that plane, and closed my eyes and said a goodbye from the heart. I did not at the time appreciate what London had to offer, what she had already given me, how she had loved me, how she had entered my soul and touched me. The plane touched down at O’Hare International Airport and he met me there at the gate, we hugged, we kissed, we cried. I met with the family that I was to nanny for and live with, and we hit it off immediately. Four amazing children, three girls and a boy and I had the privilege of being a part of their lives and how they were to view the world.
For 18 months I lived with this family, loved, laughed, cried and had a blast with them… I would see the young man on the weekends and hang with him at his apartment, or on campus, or with is college friends every weekend. The kids I nannied were hysterical, each had a unique personality as we all know now that we are parents… The oldest was smart, and such a good negotiator that I felt for sure she would be a judge one day, next was a young man who had such a soft, artistic side to himself, and then there was the middle daughter whose stage presence was just electrifying!!! The youngest daughter had intellectual disabilities, but boy was she a firecracker!!!!! This time with this family, and the weekends with him gave me a great appreciation for life, I took in every moment, and enjoyed all that there was to do.
While in Chicago with him, I ate at fun restaurants, fell in LOVE with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, Marshall Fields was my favorite store to shop at on Michigan Ave, I attended all of the festivals that Chicago had to offer, and played in Lake Michigan!!! (2am skinny dipping) The family took me twice to Arizona, and yes we discovered while there that heights and I are NOT FRIENDS!!!! The Grand Canyon can be viewed a quarter of a mile away from the edge!!! Trust me on this one!
I fell in love here, I found myself here, I became who I am here… Yes I have a British accent, yes I may use funny words once in a while, yes I may look at my American friends strangely and ask them to clarify, but in my heart I belong here. Here I can be soft, warm, encouraging to strangers, happy, fluffy, quirky, and guess what…. I am O.K. with that. Chicago began to feel like home to me, and I was O.K. with that too… Someone recently said I had become Americanized, as if that were offensive, and at first I was offended. Then I pondered that, and you know what… I am ME!!! It really doesn’t matter where my feet landed, I am just me living my life.
Funny 18 months seems like such a long time, and yet it shot by like a bullet… He graduated from University and I finished my time with the family… He had the bug to travel and we agreed that if we were to make a real go of this relationship that he should experience London and understand me from the ground up! Hello ~ LONDON!!!! Giggle!
We arrived within days of each other back in London and after a couple of weeks found the MOST AMAZING flat in Notting Hill, well before “Notting Hill” became famous thanks to Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts!!!! London has so many sides to her, it is immeasurable really; we lived in a borough that was going day and night. It is everything you see in that movie and even more. Yes we were steps from Portobello Market, and right in the middle of the Notting Hill Carnival!!! We were but a tube ride away from all that you think of with regards to London, and I lost myself at Covent Garden every second that I had. While there we worked hard and saved every penny we had. We had the BUG!!!! The travel bug!
Being in London this time around was different for me, I had a purpose and I was sharing where I came from with the man that I had fallen in love with. I saw things through his new eyes and I fell in love with London all over again. I fell for her history, diversity, food, atmosphere, art, museums, pubs, entertainment, and oh so much more… Covent Garden has always secretly been my favorite place to just be….
We wanted to see what the world had to offer us, and we were determined to do as much in a year!
At the end of our stay in London, we sold everything…. We owned the clothes on our backs, and in our backpacks and nothing more. I remember that day very clearly, 4th December 1991….. We put our backpacks on and walked down to the Ladbroke Grove tube station… That day I said Goodbye To London with a heavy heart… That day I knew for sure that I would not be living within her heart again. That day as I put one foot infront of the other, not knowing where I would end up, I knew it would not be in London…
That day I said Goodbye To London.
On April 12th, 2016 I will say Hello to London, and I will embrace her and love her as she has always loved me. She has always been in my heart, you can take the girl out of London, but you cannot take London out of the girl. I will stroll the streets and feel at home, I will drink tea, eat fish and chips, sit in a pub, I will hear my accent and not feel lost, I will BE…