Writing 101, Day Two: The spaces we inhabit have an influence on our mood, our behavior, and even the way we move and interact with others. If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?
From just a quick trip the summer before I started college, I knew that I loved London. The culture, the atmosphere of the city, the people- I loved it all. Those few days spent hustling through the city catching every tourist spot in the book led to a four-month semester. I needed to sink my teeth in it, to really feel for the city and the energy that pulsed through the streets.
Fast forward three years later. Bags are packed and I’m headed to JFK to embark on the biggest adventure yet. Four months in London. Four months to travel Europe, to see what all the fuss was about.
So many people spent weekend after weekend jetsetting to different countries. A weekend in Prague. A day in Berlin. Three days in Paris. A whirlwind of a trip. That’s all fine and in fact, part of me envies the ability to pick up and bounce off to different places only to come back and roll into class again on Monday morning.
For me? I wanted to grab hold of my free time and spend it wisely. Get to know the city beyond that fleeting tourist view that I had had in years before.
While wandering through town, I found tiny bits that drew me in. A cafe here. A market there. A great little bar with live music for the evenings.
But the thing that I love the best? The park.
I’d pack a bag- a snack, a water, a book, pad & paper and my iPod. Hop on the Overground train to change to the tube, leading me towards Oxford Street.
Sure, there were other routes that worked (probably better), but I loved going from the hustle and bustle of the shopping district to the openness of the park. A literal breath of fresh air.
London has the perfect blend of new and old; one that you can’t find here in the states. That balance is felt all throughout the city. Stroll down Oxford Street and you’ll see old architecture with modern fashions streaking the windows. The skyline of the city combines modern and traditional structures side by side.
But Hyde Park? It’s its own little entity. It stays separate in its own peaceful entity stuck right in the center of the city. That breath of fresh air is echoed throughout the park. A chance to step back and appreciate the stillness.
“It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London – that it has always been , in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically – by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town.”
One of my favorite ways to pass the time was to just sit and relax in one of the ever-present lawn chairs. The stripes calling out for comfort, relaxing into the green space. Whether to people watch, read, nap, or just sit- that space had a sense of comfort that was hidden in the rest of the city. When the heaviness of work bogged me down, the open space helped to clear my mind.
I haven’t been back to London since those four months were spent learning the ins and outs of the city. There’s sense of homesickness that rises up every time a friend mentions an upcoming trip. It’s been far too long since I had the chance to breathe in that space, but it’ll come around again.