London day and changed perspectives.

I had had a pretty rubbish weekend (it was Valentines' Day and I'm not sure why it got me so down - super lame), and I had very little to do - yet lots of vague huge tasks that I was supposed to do. Which is the worst because you just feel guilty and don't know where to start.

I spent most of it in coffee places and the library. Monday was also pretty rubbish, and Tuesday (yesterday) was bearable. The evening was great, because last night I went 'out'.

This is an usual thing for me these days.

I am pretty boring and tend to stay in worry about my 'to do' lists.

After filming (part of) the first episode of a new series for student television, we went to the pub and it was lovely and nice and I felt happy.

I felt that I was relaxed, and felt myself. That I was being light and funny and not dumbing myself down but also not taking myself too seriously. I felt that I dealt with meeting lots of new people in a nice way, and it was good. I thought I had maybe forgotten how to socialise.

However, I didn't get back until about 4am - but nevertheless, it was good to go out again.

Today I had a web design class (part of creative digital arts), and then a 'field trip' for my avant garde film theory class to the Tate Modern.

We looked at a bunch of art that was made around the time of the avant garde film eras and art movements.

(Apologies. These are all phone pictures)

Marcel Duchamp

Andy Warhol (not what we were meant to be studying but I am a fan)

Roy Lichtenstein & Andy Warhol respectively (again, not what we were meant to be looking at, but whatever).

We had tea and scones and chatted about the art.

I made some new friends I think (hope) and I got distracted at the end and got some postcards in the Tate shop.

On the walk back along South Bank, something changed.

It was a very grey / over-cast day, with drizzle.

I don't know why, but it made me really happy. Something to do with the brightness I think. You know that kind of bright when it's actually super grey and you can't see the sun or clouds or blue, but that in some way it is actually really really bright?

And it must have been around 5pm ish, so just starting to get dark / was that kind-of almost 'twilight' thing. It felt quite moody.

The drizzle ish rain was cold on my face and it felt really nice. Especially since I was quite warm. (I think it was a bit because I was hungover ish. Does anyone else get that? Warm when hungover?)

Anyway, I wasn't walking fast.
Any Londoners will know that this is quite significant.
London people walk fast, in a rush. All the time. Especially on the tube.

Since moving to London (lol. no. Egham, Surrey. About 30+ mins from South West London), I have had a bit of a hate ish relationship with the city.
As exciting as all the big places were, I mostly felt stressed, poor and unhappy there.
I would complain (and still do) about how it is a capitalist douchebag bubble.
That the centre is filled with rich white men who play with money plus a bunch of Russian oligarchs and super bonkers rich Saudi Arabians.
This is all still the case.

But I had lost some of the magic / excitement that I felt when I first came to London aged 12-going-on-13, on a school trip.
I had lost that sense of wonder in a new place, and a sense of peace with myself or deep happiness.

I remember the moments when I first moved to Maastricht in 2011, and I would walk home in the evening on the cobble stones by the river or over the bridge, and feel so deeply happy and in awe of the fact that I was actually there.

I was really abroad. Living the dream. I was now this independent young person gallivanting around to my hearts' content, and the world was my oyster.
This deep contentedness in my own company and usually when I was walking or cycling slowly and usually through beautiful streets or by the river - is something that I can't really explain properly.

I never really felt this in London.
Sometimes I would get super excited about where I was. Eg. Visiting the BBC studios for the first time (where the news is made that I watched at 6pm / 10pm almost every night for most of my life; and where loads of big things are eg. Radio 1 and The One Show). Or when I worked at Global Radio for a day. Or when I went to these super exclusive fancy London clubs in Chelsea or Mayfair. Or when I went to the Tate for the first time and saw my favourite Mondrian.

But I never had that feeling that I was a girl of the city. That I was in control, taking my time, that I belonged there and had a right to be there and live it.
The London I experienced was not the one of Bridget Jones' Diary or Notting Hill or Love Actually, or the idea that I had of it when I dreamed as a child of going to the Royal Academy of Dance or working on Blue Peter.
It was stressful. I hated the people in it. I hated the centre. I hated that I felt that it owned me, that I was dictated by it and that I did not have agency there.
London decides how much you will spend on your coffee and when your last train home is.

Today was a bit different.
I am more familiar with South Bank now.
And I was walking.
It was an open space.
Not a busy street full of briefcases, not a tube line, not a train station.
I was not in a hurry. I did not need to be anywhere. I wasn't rushing for the last train home.
I could do what I wanted.
I could see the sky.

There was the light rain on my face, the bright grey sky (if a bit melancholic), and I could hear the sound of the waves of the Thames river.

It was almost quiet (for London standards).

I imagined if my younger self could see me now.
This, I decided, was almost exactly what I would have envisioned myself as. (in a way)
Walking at my own pace by the river, grown up, just been to an art gallery, got post cards because I wanted.
I knew where I was going, I knew the train system and had time to stroll and take photographs of the passing scene.

I didn't feel like a stupid child (as I often do in London), but felt that I legitimately fitted in. In a weird way.

I bought The Big Issue from a guy at the top of the steps near the bit with shops and bars that you need to go through to get to Waterloo station. I felt better that I did this. But I need to do a whole other blog post about The Big Issue.

I still feel sad about some aspects of London, and the changes of the past 10 years or so (or maybe they are just perceived changes, I don't know).

But today I felt good about things, and felt that yes - I am living in London, (or close to), like little Catriona always knew she would.

It won't be forever.
In fact, I am pretty sure that I want to leave London as soon as I finish my studies here (unless I get a wonderfully paid job / internship... but even then, I'm not so sure...).

But for now I have until the end of March 2017 - just over a year - to enjoy all that it can offer me.

Heart It



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