Tuesday, 6 December 2016
My house represents my London - pages from the A-Z, that old bible of London, which show all the places I've lived and worked in my time here. All those places have helped make me who I am today, and the people that I've met and talked with and laughed with and had cups of tea with have enriched my life immeasurably. So, thank you, London - despite all my complaints, I do love you so.
Thinking about home is tricky for me. If you asked me, my first answer would probably be that home is where those you love are - but so many people live a long way from family and friends they care about that it's not quite so easy. Do you choose your home? Does it choose you? Do you end up somewhere accidentally? Do you tolerate or embrace where you are?As a German who grew up mostly in the USA and has lived in London for more than 20 years I've struggled a lot with the feeling that there are always loved ones living too far away, and that, far from belonging in each of these places, I belong in none of them. But I am also lucky enough to have had the opportunity to choose London - and home, for better or worse, is here. From my first trip to London as a 15 year old when I said to my friend (who remembered long after I had forgotten), "I'm going to live here some day," I've felt drawn to this city. It is dirt, smelly, overcrowded, too expensive and full of aggravations like transport problems and other people who are too busy and stressed to deal with others kindly. But at the same time it is mysterious, intriguing, beautiful, and full of history, exciting things to do and see and wonderful people. Over the centuries London has welcomed so many different types of people - so many cultures and different classes - that I feel heartbroken at this year's vote for Brexit and the implication that the nation is saying others are no longer welcome. I am trying to take heart in the fact that the people of this city does not necessarily feel the same.