In 2012 I was gifted a pocket sized ‘decomposition’ notebook which has since been a constant companion, ensuring that I can write down just about any thought that comes into my head. I’ve carried it with me while traveling for as long as I can remember, hoping that it will serve as a reminder to document my experiences and reflect on them while still in the moment.
Sometimes, this reminder works spectacularly- others, not so much.
For example, I was hugely inspired while in Romania because of how much I learned while I was there. Unfortunately traveling to London last weekend, while incredible, failed to ignite the same kind of spark.
This is not to say that London doesn’t have a lot to teach me- it undeniably does, and it will have the opportunity when I return in September. But, due to the nature of the trip, filled with so much familiarity and the knowledge that I would be returning in a few short months, I did not feel the same hunger to soak it all in.
Instead, I was filled with a raw, intense sense of excitement; I had booked the trip several months ago after buying tickets to see a favorite band play with a London-based friend whereas my trip to Romania was intended to cure my restlessness and satisfy my curiosities about the place.
Upon arriving I felt very much like I was in the United States- which makes sense given that it was the first English speaking place I’ve visited in several months- I was at home instantly, comforted by the knowledge that I was in a place that understood my language and would have things such as iced coffee or bagels, both commodities that don’t really exist in my current place of residence (fun fact: in Serbia and most other Balkan countries if you order an iced coffee you will receive a latte with vanilla ice cream in it which, while not an unpleasant surprise, is disheartening after a certain point).
After spending some time with my host for the weekend, a friend I met while studying in the Balkans last year, and attending a show for a band I’ve called myself a fan of for more than nine years, the feeling of belonging only grew.
The next morning was spent cherishing the return of iced coffee to my diet while trading life updates traipsing through the charming streets of soho. I did manage to squeeze in a handful of tourist sights, though I kept my distance, not yet able to shake the feeling that normal tourist behavior would be disrespectful in the wake of last weeks horrific events.
It wasn’t until I returned to Heathrow, 25 of 28 hours later, that I broke out my trusted companion and began writing.
Sitting in an airport bar on the tail end of my first visit to a city I will soon call home, I wrote down several short anecdotes from my limited time there, concluding the page with, “I have rarely felt so lucky”.
See you soon, London. I can’t wait to learn from you.