A Love Letter to Home
It’s the beginning of March, and London is a dozen shades of grey fading into a sodden sky. The tubes are on strike, the trains are overcrowded, and the air is cold and wet. It’s the kind of day that normally makes me yearn to be somewhere else. But how can you dream of escaping your home town when, all over the world, people are having to flee theirs? Wanting to travel is part of being human, but today is a day when to do anything but appreciate home would feel obscene.
And so, a love letter to home, to London. To the diffused light that softens everything, charcoal pavements slick with rain, and the eternal, constant river. To the smell of damp dust after summer rain and the radiant heat from brick walls on August evenings; the gentle omnipresence of pigeons and the wild cries of gulls; the taste of hot buttered toast with marmite and the sweet-sour apples of October. To the dappled summer shade of horse chestnuts and the cool ponds on the heath that taste vaguely of dirt but cleanse the soul. To unnecessary apologies and overlong goodbyes, the indifference of the tube, the warm familiarity of the pub, the irony, the piss-taking. The disappointment when summer fails to materialise and the joy when it finally arrives. The sweetest comforts of home are the myriad mundanities you take for granted until they’re gone.
Home is like a mother tongue - every intricate twist understood without explanation, ingrained since childhood. It’s the security of understanding how things work and what to expect, the maps etched into our psyches, the confidence of belonging. An alien home you choose and learn to understand can become all those things, but a home wrenched from you is like a severed limb, its very absence an ache.
I’ve dreamed of leaving London and have never missed it when I’ve left for the unbelievably privileged reason that it has always been there waiting for me, mutating, growing but essentially the same.
Home, tangled with memory, habit and assumptions, can feel like a rope keeping us too close to the shore, but, sever that rope and we’re boats wrenched from their moorings, adrift on a vast uncharted sea.
I will always dream of other places and new beginnings, but, if London were taken from me, I know that its drizzle, damp, and low grey skies would become the fabric of my yearning dreams.