London, to me, has always been a lifelong dream. One that has driven my internal compass; the “why” in my life. I grew up in a difficult family, with a weak sense of self and a personality which was easily manipulated by fear, guilt and obligation.
I visited London via a stopover in my late teens, after a particularly trying time with family. I was only in London for one brief evening, but I still remember the energy that emanated from the capital, the beautiful sky above Regents Street and the architectural scale of the Palace of
Westminster. London felt so positive and so full of hope and strength. It symbolised everything I wanted to be – ambitious, strong and capable. When I got back to my small hometown I knew that I had to get back to the city one day.
A few years later,I graduated from university into a soul-sucking job that I despised. Being young, I expressed interest in exploring my options to live abroad. Instead of being encouraged, I was stopped by my overbearing parents, who held such agency over my life and my thoughts.
They guilted me into staying and told me that I should stay at my job because stability was paramount, and prevented me from leaving.
A decade had passed, and I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my career, the city that I loved, or had any idea of who I was as a person. I was still living at home, as was customary in my culture. But the one thing that I did know, was that I needed to get to London, where I could explore who I was, on my own. So, without telling my parents or anyone else, I quit my job and arranged everything for my move. It was a lonely but exhilarating experience. I remember my heart pounding as I broke the news to my parents. I faced criticism from close friends, who openly opined why I would leave.
My time in London only amounted to about a year, but it was enough. It was enough for me to understand what home meant. Fast forward to today, and I found myself in London once again with my partner. We had been living here for the past couple of years and like many, making plans for our future. Then, Covid-19 hit, and we were placed in lockdown, and like many, our plans took a backseat as we came to grips with everything.
Despite being thousands of miles from our home country, we’ve felt grateful for green space around us. Primrose Hill. Regents Park. The canal. Being able to see water, trails and open spaces has been so restorative and healing in this time of uncertainty. What really helped us get through was the feeling of community, where we could share not only our fears, but support for each other. Group chats with neighbours have been started, with the sharing of resources ever so important in this time. So much had changed in such a short period of time and like so many
people around us, my partner and I tried our hand at baking, making sourdough bread and banana loaves. I think it was a way to self-soothe, but I think it’s also about a modicum of control. Baking and cooking have produced a sense of calmness in us and gave us some confidence that we can still impact some of our outcomes.
We have no idea what the future will hold, but like the view of the City from Primrose Hill, hope is everywhere around us and right ahead of us. I want to continue looking forward, to heal and to take it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. And I have London to thank for that.