People often say you cannot love more than one thing. If you’re heart truly loved the first thing, it wouldn’t love the second. I know this saying is used mainly for people but it applies here. Just because something you love isn’t human does not mean that it isn’t love.
I fell in love with New York for the first time when I watched Oliver & Company and connected the dots that this was the city my uncle lived in that I didn’t really think of. My first solid memory of New York and I must have been around six.
Regular readers of my blog may know that I had the opportunity to go to the city that never sleeps this summer as the most amazing birthday present ever which was bestowed on me by the boy. The flight was horrendous and technically speaking I never landed in New York because I am the unluckiest solo traveller in the world.
However, 48 hours later and I was standing in Times Square – my jaw on the floor from all the lights, the people, the sounds, the smells. New York was a sensory overload even when it was quiet, it wasn’t. Quiet in NY includes honking cars, and a buzzing atmosphere that is felt rather than heard like a pulsating bass line running through your veins.
Even in the middle of Central Park, completely lost and starting to become slightly manic, NY wasn’t quiet. It was still electrifying like it was plugged in and the ground itself was given you little shocks of whatever you needed in that moment.
I fell in love with New York. Even the parts I hated like the subway. And the lack of proper signs in the subway I hated with enough ferocity that could only have come from love. The opposite of love, after all, is not hatred but indifference.
London is different. For one it’s the place where I was born and I grew up. I will never forget the day my dad drove the whole family away to a town I considered the countryside. At 13, I thought the world at ended the day my family moved out of London.
London has always had a place in my heart. On moving day, my sister and I swore we would go back to London (to live) as soon as we could. I don’t plan on breaking that promise. I did become complacent about London, like when you don’t appreciate someone when they’re there but then miss them when you realise they’re gone.
Going to New York helped me appreciate London more. London is still busy but it’s like it already knows it won the race, it isn’t rushing. It expects time to wait. New York isn’t like that. London is beautiful and every part of it, every building has a history.
One of the side walls to the V&A museum is full of damage, cuts like the Hulk has punched it. It isn’t repaired because it has a story, those imperfections come from WWII. They are scars that prove survival.
London is a story. You walk through it and around it and everything is telling you something. From the bricks that make the buildings to the slabs that make the pavements.
London isn’t as obvious even when it tries. To compare the two cities is hard because London whispers while New York shouts yet neither is louder or more powerful. Both are self-assured and both are beautiful.
New York is younger, more energetic, more excited about things. London feels like it has seen it all and it believes in itself the way an eighty year old man does, in the way that comes from life experience.
I love London, I will always love London. It’s like the childhood toy that sits on my bed even though I’m working on my laptop. I would never be able to say which I prefer: New York or London. The loves are different but they are equal in strength and adoration.
But I left a little piece of my heart in New York when I left this summer. It is hidden there waiting for my return. And I will go back. I will make New York my home at some point in the future, New York is addictive. It is magical and I can see myself there, not in the way that directors and actors portray it but in a way that would be completely and utterly inspiring. For a person like me, it just seems a perfect place to blossom for a while and grow.
London will be my calm before the storm.