Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Beauty of Being London

I'm experimenting a bit with some writing styles, and put this piece together in about a half an hour. It's raw, but I think it sets a tone. And yes, I know "indescribability" is not a word. But I think it needs to be. Anyways, here it is:

I’m watching the water in the Thames River move upstream. It’s a chalky brownish color, constantly digging up silt from the bottom and regurgitating it to the top. It looks like chocolate milk; thick, brown, and velvety textured.

As I lean against the black wrought iron railing, I’m trying to figure out what London means to me. Trying to find some symbolic likeness that could sum up the city, the people, and the vibrations of this ancient, new, hip, square, traditional, cutting edge place. And then light dawns: this place can’t be summed up; my quick fix, fast solution mind can’t wrap it up into a neat little package. London simply is. It will always be, and it has always been.

The tides of the sea have swept up and down this river for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. Before a city was here, the Thames was throwing its murky waters onto these banks. When the Romans leapt over it, and created the city, the river never stopped. When London Bridge was built, the river kept moving in beat, in rhythm, up from the sea, and back, up from the sea, and back. Back and forth, thumping like a heartbeat, constant, and never ending. No chain can shackle it.

People move beside it, buildings are built, torn down, fires destroy, plagues kill, and the river is impervious. Never thinking, never hearing… just being. Things constantly change and the river just is.

I look up from the river, and check out the landscape and see Big Ben, lit up, looking lovely, tick-tocking away. Parliament stands beside the big clock, and the large ferris wheel hangs with them, the new kid on the block, looking for love from the older ones.

I’m standing outside the Temple tube stop on the Embankment, trying to figure out why this city holds me in its grip, and never will let go. I’ve come back four times, and will come back more, it’s allure, it’s romance, this maddening inescapable thing that I can’t describe and so desperately want to. I’ve tried everything; living here, visiting, shopping, sightseeing, drinking, playing, loving and hating in this city, and still I can’t describe the trance it holds over me.

The only thing for it then, is TO describe it. The only way I think I might be over it is to put into words how enchanting its nature is to me. So I try and fail, and try and fail. Thump, thump…. Thump, thump.

What IS London? London is the person you know who suffers from split personality disorder. Maybe you don’t know that person – but I know that city. It’s New York sometimes, sometimes San Francisco. I’ve heard it described like Milwaukee, Rome, Paris, Berlin, D.C., and all of the Manhattans: Lower Manhattan, East Side Manhattan, Upper West Side Manhattan. And every person, every description is right. In certain lights, at certain times London is all of those places. And at other times, it’s none of them.

Its complete indescribablity is what makes it the most aggravatingly lovely place on earth. So my hate/love affair continues with this place. As I stand on the banks of the Thames, outside the Temple tube station on a cool May night, with the city opening up in front of me lit in purples, and golds, and greens, nothing has changed, nothing is solved, but everything makes sense. Everything…. Is. And the river doesn’t care, it just goes about its business, moving up and down. Like it always has. Like it always will.

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