I first traveled to London at the young age of five. Eighteen years ago.
I traveled to London for a second time, along with various other cities in the UK, at the older, (but still young), age of twenty.
And here I am, again. At the not so much older age of twenty-three.
I am in London, and ironically I am doing practically all the same things I would do in New York, (but just in London). I am going to coffee shops, I am going on walks, I am caring for my nephew and spending time with my brother and sister-in-law. As I sit inside this flat in Southwark, I am watching my nephew on the monitor sleeping his exhaustion away. Nothing out of the ordinary, except it is all out of the ordinary since I typically don’t live in London. The location changes, but the lifestyle remains.
This is natural.
It is natural for me to live out of a bag. To go on long-haul flights. To be jet lagged. To say yes to a trip last minute. To make a random flat my home, despite how temporary it is. It’s comfortable. It is normal.
I crave travel. After three or four months my body just starts to itch –an itch that is not entirely constant, but is there enough that I can’t ignore it. I itch to travel, to hop on a plane or go on a road trip. Traveling hits all the reset buttons. My internal life becomes richer; thoughts firing in my head, while a serenity consumes every inch of my body.
But, I have to admit, I entirely recognize the great amount of privilege I have to be writing these words in the first place –to have gotten the opportunities to travel and live in various places, thus allowing the comfortability. I am well aware that if it wasn’t for my family, particularly my parents as I was growing up, I would not be as well traveled as I am, not even close –and to them, I am very grateful.
I am grateful that I was able to take advantage of the various open doors that presented themselves to me throughout the years, such as this trip to London. But, I should note, that if it wasn’t essentially a business trip, I would not have been able to afford this. At least not at this time in my life. I did though, dip into my savings and book a tiny studio apartment so I could extend my trip five nights. I will be going solo in London, just like I did a few years ago.
The last time I came to London, it was during a ten day solo backpacking trip through the UK. I started in Cardiff, Wales, trained my way up to Manchester, before heading to Edinburg, Scotland where I spent my nights hanging out with a group of Aussies in the hostel. Then I trained my way back down through England, stopping in York and Cambridge, before eventually ending my trip in London for a few days. So many hostels. So many trains. I met more people, made more friends, in those ten days that I do within a normal six month period, (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but for an introvert it also holds some truth).
I decided to get my own place this time around, a tiny studio, which I am excited for. It is going to feel luxurious, (well, my idea of luxurious, even though it is one of the cheapest options I could find). But, I am wondering if I should have booked a hostel though. I am aware that I am missing out on the opportunity to meet various people, to explore the city with strangers. As much of an introvert as I am, I still need human interaction, just small doses. And some days it is only a very, very small interaction, e.g., talking with my barista.
I love my solitude. I love solo travel. I love being able to experience this with my fam, but, travel is very romantic. Especially, as I know I am coming upon some time here alone, I find a joyful melancholy over the experience. I am happy with where I am at, with being single, but I look forward to the day I can travel with a partner, and hopefully one day: my wife.
While I may not currently have a partner to share my life with, I have my loving brother, sister-in-law, and nephew who I am going through life with. And while I also may not be rich monetarily, I still consider myself to live a “rich” life. Rich as in fulfilling. A life full of love, of laughter, of travel and opportunity. I often find myself foolishly dancing around all day, just to get a giggle out of this small sixteenth month old baby. The silly things I will do just to make him laugh!
The love I have for this tiny human… And also, the great amount he is teaching me. Since I have started taking care of him, my mind has made a shift, as well as my body. Oy vey, my hormones and periods! For the first time I’ve started taking birth control, went to planned parenthood to get the Depo shot earlier this month with the hope of finding some sort of balance.
Side note: since I consider myself queer, and more specifically gay, it is strange to say I am taking hormonal birth control. I don’t need it for the birth control purpose at all. More simply, it is just a hormone regulator –giving me the hope of not feeling quite so ill every month.
I very much digressed…
My nephew is constantly teaching me just as much as I am teaching him. I have always leaned more towards the serious and reserved side of life, but now I am learning how to be foolish. I am learning how to laugh at myself and let go of embarrassment. Learning how to be playful. Learning how to love fully, unconditionally. Learning what it really means to be present in the moment –to be aware and emotionally available. [And the list could easily continue]
I feel like I have gone on many tangents, as I tend to. This is essentially my public journal, raw and only read over once for typos, so I apologize for any errors or confusing run-on sentences that don’t make sense outside of my own brain.
And the last little tangent I am going to go on, is the nostalgia I am experiencing from when I lived in Ireland. Obviously, I am aware it is a different country, I am not in Ireland, but there are so many similarities. I keep getting vivid flashbacks, some pleasant, some not so much. They will be sparked by tiny things like the brand of almond milk, the grocery stores, the wall outlets, the plane rides, the cars driving on the left side of the road, etc. Small things, rather insignificant themselves, but they are connected to emotionally charged experiences I had. So many of my thoughts and experiences in Ireland, ended up interwoven with the friendships and relationship I was in at the time. It has been *interesting* (for lack of a better word) having these flashbacks. I haven’t been sleeping particularly well, but hey, I am in London, I can’t really complain!
And now, it is time for my quick re-over of this blog (to check for the many errors I know I have made), before crawling into this Ikea bed to cuddle up with Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking.
If I wasn’t to have a book on me when traveling, then that would just be pure insanity.