Friday, October 5, 2012

RP phone home

See? What a gorgeous girl E.T. makes.
With the title of this blog, I make a comparison between me an E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. We are one in the same. We're both small. Our noses are both rounded off at the tips. We're both inherently separate from the general population because we're "different". We both like dressing up in beautiful dresses.

That being said, we're not in every way alike. E.T. has a much longer neck than I do. E.T.'s head is shaped more like an American football than a British football (like mine is). E.T. has piercing blue eyes where I have nondescript brown.

But our greatest distinction from one another is not a physical attribute. It's that after spending time in a world unlike my own, I'm not phoning home.

Truthfully, I am phoning home in the literal sense of the phrase. Every day I call my dad within prescribed times that we've discussed the day before. We FaceTime for at the least a few minutes, at the most an hour or so, and I get my little taste not only of his presence in my life, but of my cats and my home and everything else within close enough distance to our router to maintain the wi-fi signal on his iPhone (Note to Dad: I particularly enjoyed when you walked out to my car and showed me how you'd claimed the best parking spot for it. You're the best).

But when it comes to actually begging the mothership to come to the land of the English and rescue me from the place, I'm utterly silent. Is it true that I didn't discover this until today? Yes. But thank goodness I did.

The past few days have had me looking at London with a complete forgetfulness, erasing all belief in its superior perfection and beauty. In the mornings, I walk down the street and head to classes without even a thought spared to the truth of the matter. The truth being that I'm in what I consider the most wonderful city in the world.

Luckily, for the first time since I arrived in London back in mid-September, I'm starting to see the place for the glory that I once knew beyond a doubt that it held.

Looking back at those earliest days, I remember taking a bus ride to the city center where the study abroad program's hotel was located and finally acquainting myself with the look of an English license plate again. Then I was met with the sight of black taxis all over the city. Soon I was seeing traffic signs I recognized. Finally, street names and buildings that rang the nostalgia bell.

After a while, though, those little details that remind you of a place become regular old items. You place little meaning in them. You see them, then walk past them as if they never held any significance.

I consider it a travesty that London ever, even for just a week or so, became something I forgot to appreciate for every second of every day.

I've been treating this place like I do the decorations in my bedrooms. At school or at home, I always put a tremendous effort into making my living space homey. I put up postcards of paintings and images and places that represent my favorite things in life. I buy trinkets that I can place all over the place, little tchotchkes that to others seem like junk, but to me are the treasures of my past experience. After a while, though, even the most important items of posterity get easily forgotten. You walk past the same wall in your room every day, but you never notice the beautiful images you placed on it with the intention of creating happiness at every glance.

London doesn't deserve that kind of treatment.

Walking around London today with my friend Dana, who has come to visit for the weekend, gave me two things. The first was a lot of foot pain - tip, don't wear boots with heels if you plan to walk long distances for more than a few hours. The second was a new appreciation for things that I've begun to consider as extraneous within the London landscape. Places like Big Ben and Parliament, Buckingham Palace, even eclectic joints like Camden Market. These are the places around the city that I've been to before, perhaps one too many times, and lost sight of the beauty which they hold.

But there was a reason I fell in love with London on my first visit in 2007. And it wasn't just the beautiful accents on the people living in the city. It was everything that the place had to offer, even the things that become trite as you start to know a place more as a home than as a tourist destination.

It's unfair for me to start thinking of London as just a home. Because despite feeling a closeness to the city, I never want my relationship with it to be one of indifference and boredom. I've grown to know and respect this city more than I ever have anywhere else - my hometown included - and it's only right to respect it not as just the spot where my living quarters are, but the same place that sparked my imagination, admiration, fascination and love so many years ago.

Those are feelings I never ever want to forget. And that's why I'm not longer thinking within the context of home, either here or there. This is so much more than that.

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