Romanticizing a City
I was moved today to write this after opening up my reading for Friday’s class (Look at me , Ma! I’m not procrastinating. Turns out you do learn a thing or two in grad school). Ths first paragraph of the article was about Bob Dylan and the way he turned New York City into poetry. And he did. As did Paul Simon. Walt Whitman.
And San Francisco – Mr. Ferlinghetti, the things you have said…well, how could anyone not swoon for the city by the bay?
Then there is London. A city, which for me was wholly written by William Wordsworth. Shakespeare. Keats. The Beatles. You get my point.
And in these words of poets and songwriters. Artists and thinkers, where am I? Where are the day-to-day people who sit in crowded trains and shuffle through often dirty streets to get to work or class, or the end of the world. People aren’t always nice in cities. Especially the big ones. Most are just trying to get through. I can see how easy it is to get to that place. Where the city has lost its poetry, its possibilities and its wonder.
But then there are days like this past Saturday. I spent five hours wandering about the city with my housemate Sam – through Portobello Road Market all the way through Regent’s Canal and then finally to Regent’s Park where we let our heads rest under a tree. That’s the amazing thing about London parks, they’re in the center of everything, and they make the city suddenly quiet and open. Once you’ve passed through the Rose Garden, you recognize the set of about a thousand Jane Austen adaptations and PBS or HBO period dramas. Sometimes I still pinch myself and say oh, I live here. I mean c’mon, I met my lovely classmates Rosie and Zaylie along with Julia for tea at Kensington Palace on Sunday. That’s my life? But, then we received some horrifyingly rude service and I was brought right back down to earth. Thankfully I was in good company and we got 50% off of our bill after speaking with the mait’re de. Huzzah! My American pushiness has come in handy!
It’s often rare in London to hear English spoken in public places. The entire world lives here. Moreso than New York, I must say. Though I may be an ocean from home, the world I know has become much smaller. And that’s comforting.