missing london

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rush of a red double-decker bus pushing forward crisp air, sliding so close to the curb you can almost feel it plowing you into the sidewalk.

brick inserted between the door and the wall, a tell-tale sign that visitors are about to trudge up the stairs carrying King of Shadows and Peter Pan in their arms.

half-falling asleep on the couch while the landlord slowly turns the laminated plastic pages of the apartment guide and cracks a few jokes. Finding coffee at a stand in Hyde Park after walking past Buckingham Palace and longing to be asleep instead.

a girl’s voice at the microphone, your friend singing “The Scientist” in public while everyone crowds around, all elbows and cameras, a travel-bred family.

bright and stuffy, colorful and blue, tables and cushions and couches scattered across the wood floor, and “Eat In or Take Away” on the chalkboard and on the lips of the kind barista at The Blue Corner. 

blood sausage, dry and savory, toast-with-butter that melts like cotton candy, a little bowl of tomato-sauce beans, and a porthole view of the Thames River from a two-person table with only one seat filled.

rumble and race of a motorcycle at midnight, heard through the flat window that is cracked open with one spare tennis shoe.

walking to church in the mist, stopping to pay a pound or two for a bad tasting snack roll, hesitating outside the church door and finally slinking into a mid-back row, only to have Helen with her glasses, bouncy eyes, and curly black hair, ask what your name is–and before the phrase even escapes your lips, say “You’re not from here, are you?”

rummaging through bags for a missing passport, calm and anxious, tumultuous and steady, a Heathrow lady in all purple asking if she can help.

man at a fruit stand offering you melons, telling you that you are beautiful, and asking your name, but it starts to rain that day; next time you walk that way, you go on the other side of the street, half-wanting to see the man again, half-hoping not to.

cry from a lady nearly-shoved into the middle of the street, a man who pulls your friend’s wrist and says “Crack,” nearly dragging her backwards. A riot in Hyde Park with people jumping over McDonald’s counters, and remembering that this is a city brimming with life and history and poison.

warmth radiating into your palm from a pizza box, carried from one side of the street to the other, the smell of warm cheese, pineapple, and jalapenos waiting inside.

lilt of a child’s voice calling “Henry!” in crisp British English.

rose gardens–yellow and pink and red with luscious green leaves like candy–alongside sparkling waters with drifting blue paddle-boats between trees, near islands bursting with tropical looking growth–the soft touch of sunlight on every growing thing like a dream of Heaven.

endless tree-draped road running from your eyesight into the distance; children playing in the field next to it; a little boy shooting down the walkway on a scooter, trapped forever in-motion in your photograph.

rush of the Tube gliding through the station; you–standing all alone in muted colors, trying to look the part of a Londoner; a stranger pulling out his folded up Tube-map with its intersecting colors and lines in a web, asking if you know the way from here-to-there–telling him all you know, and when he walks away, thinking that this place has now become a part of you, a part of home.

London, I miss you. ❤ 

 

 

 

 

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