Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I haven't written in a very long time. I have let this blog go - intentionally. I'm in graduate school and my school work takes up most of my time. This blog was started when I was so young and naive and went to study in Peru - now it feels like a cute little hobby I once loved and still remember fondly. Like making friendship bracelets or coloring with crayons.

I live in London now and up until a few weeks ago, I really didn't like it.

No one should ever move from New Orleans to London. (Unless you hate New Orleans, then by all means, go.) New Orleans is loud and hot - with street music constantly, and parades all the time, and strangers ask about your day, and the food is spicy, the air is humid, the booze flowing. The culture is Caribbean and French and African and Spanish. You can eat alligator hot dogs on a balcony while a brass band plays below and an impromptu dance party breaks out on the street. You go to parades and shout and sing and dance until you're hoarse.

I went to a parade in London once. It was silent.

I am completely freaked out by how quiet Londoners can be in large groups. 30 Londoners shuffle down a tube station in the morning with not a peep. No one even breathes.  And I'm not the only one that finds it strange - Bill Bryson, the travel writer, commented on it, calling the London commuters "characters from Night of the Living Dead"  but also praising them for how polite they all are.

No strangers ask how you are in London. That would be rude. There is very little street music. I've never seen anyone dance in the street, the food is mostly bland (to me), the booze is to be drunk from 5 to 11 and then it all shuts down, good luck finding late night dancing that isn't hugely expensive or creepy and crowded.

I was miserable. It got worse when winter came. Gray, gray, gray for days. A spot of sun -and I was blinded. March, and there is sleet. The city streets feel claustrophobic to me. They aren't straight for miles like in New York City, the buildings aren't low enough to let you see a lot of sky like in New Orleans and DC. Gray and closed in.

It's gotten better. I'm learning to like London. Partly because Spring is coming, and partly because I'm actually getting to know her better. Graduate school keeps me locked up in the library most days and it has been frustrating to feel like I'm living in a place I barely know.

I don't think I will ever love London how I love other cities. I can't stand the "negative politeness" author and researcher Kate Fox speaks about in her book Watching the English, where chatting with people you don't know, even smiling, is considered very rude. I can't stand the silent parade watching and the lack of music and dance in the streets.

But there is such great history here. There is art and long canals and secret corners. I could like this city. We could be amicable. New Orleans is my love, but London and I, we could be colleagues and buddies and hopefully, close friends, the friendship that allows you to sit in silence together, comfortably.

I have five more months here. Let's be friendly, London.

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