Guest post by Julia Grundy
|London in Summer|
I’ve had more spare time recently. The kind of time that lets me watch a French cooking show on TV, consider actually baking madeleines, and from there googling the show’s host, then drifting from one website to another, following links, reading blogs, until I found myself looking at photos of some woman’s favorite caesar salad in San Francisco - from every angle.
At this point I stopped. Photos of lettuce leaves covered in cheese are sad.
But along this meandering online journey I did find several pretty websites and blogs dedicated to “loving Paris”, and similar fan sites for London, and of course, for New York. Do you know anyone who doesn’t LOVE New York? Expressing dislike for New York is like saying you don’t drink, people accept it but mentally mark you as a fun-hating weirdo.
I do like New York. A week there last summer left me tanned, happy, well-fed and slightly better dressed. But I don’t LOVE New York. I’m sure I’d be perfectly happy living there, but I’m not hell-bent on making it happen.
As for Paris, it totally defeated me as a cold, tired and broke 21- year-old backpacker. Anyway, my point is all these fawning blogs and websites made me think about the hole in my life that is a beloved city.
How many colorful books have been written by people who fled to a foreign city, fell in love with the people, the food, the culture, the architecture, whatever, and in the process found love, found themselves, blah blah blah? Heaps. Then why haven’t I experienced this?
I've been places, I get inspired, I’ve made the effort to fly everywhere from Istanbul to Berlin to LA…but no one city has really and truly grabbed me.
I like cities; I like big galleries, big bridges, big parks, good coffee, noise, local food markets and overpriced restaurants. I like being anonymous in a city, I like the variety of people, houses and character that a walk through any city brings. But I haven’t found MY city.
It took me over 20 years to figure out Sydney isn’t it. I totally get its appeal, and parts of it I love – like North Bondi, Bronte baths, and cheap, delicious Thai food anywhere- but there are too many things I dislike about Sydney. Given the nature of this blog I won’t bang on about them.
I really like my new city home. London is wonderfully low-key when you need it to be, but also open for any kind of fun, at any time, in all costumes and price ranges. And anyone who’s been here in summer gets it. The mood of the city completely lifts, the sidewalks outside pubs fill with happy drinkers, and every park turns into an unofficial music and cider festival. It’s so great.
So, London has a lot going for it, but I’m not gaga enough to write a blog about it. Is it me? Am I not open or daring enough to fully launch myself into a city? Is there a language barrier? Or, like a lot of relationships, is it more a case of being at the right place at the right time?
I recently married a lovely Englishman, so I can happily tick that relationship box. But after years of travelling, I’d love to find that “special” city too. There are still plenty I’m yet to see – Amsterdam, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Tokyo…. maybe it’s a numbers game, like that 100 cities thing people are doing on facebook. In the meantime, I’m giving Paris another shot this summer, hoping a better budget and serious interest in French food (thanks to that cooking show) will make all the difference.
Julia Grundy is a writer who is searching for her one true (city) love.