The day after arriving back in Seattle from London, I had two emails in my inbox, one from a friend that lives there and another from a friend that just moved away. The both shared the same sentiment: I've earned Honorary Londoner status for having survived what was one of London's most challenging weeks in a long bloody time.
First, throw in Easter Holiday. It's far more observed in Europe than it is in the US, and everyone has a 4-day weekend. TFL, thinking everyone would abandon the city for these 4 days, decided to close or defer more Tube lines and stations than ever at one time. But what they didn't anticipate was the massive influx of out-of-towners flooding the city for these 4 days. Masses of humanity everywhere; I've never seen London so overflowing with people. It took an hour to get absolutely anywhere.
Normally, I'd compensate by kicking it old school. London is pretty walkable, right? That's where the -7 degrees comes in. A storm passing over from Siberia brought unbearably cold wind, snow, hail, ice...you name it. If it's mentioned in a Christmas song, it gripped London every single day we were there. And we temperate Seattle girls only came armed with slightly warmer Spring gear. It didn't take long for each Tube car to look like a doctor's office, with all the sniffling and coughing; it's no wonder we all got very sick.
And to top it off, this was the trip we decided to rent our own flat. No longer were we conveniently next to a Tube stop with restaurants, banks and bus stops a-plenty right outside our door. Nope, we were in a quiet suburb neighborhood of London, mucking it out with the rest of the locals that were frankly quite unamused at the surprise return of winter.
The moral of the story: be careful what you wish for. I wanted to experience London outside the Tourist Bubble; what it would be like living as a local, being frustrated with public transportation instead of fascinated by it, enduring what the weather can dish out beyond the beautiful spring or summer, hauling groceries by hand 20 minutes in the blistering cold. For the sake of the growing desire to live in London for a year or two in the future, I wanted to be sure I really loved it there.
That's why I can now say with certainty that I do. Because beyond the soggy, frozen, overflowing, cranky, stinking, sneezy, frustrating experience I just paid quite a lot of money to endure, I still miss it while I'm sitting at home typing this. Even when we woke up to a blizzard outside and I felt like I'd give my country for a decongestant, even though I wouldn't care right now if the District Line was destroyed in its entirety "due to faulty signaling" and I'm still trying to digest some of my dinner from last Saturday, I still wish I could bundle up, walk 20 minutes to the station, squeeze into some guy's armpit and ride an hour to Millennium Bridge where I could watch the sunset behind Westminster.
Because the sun always seems to come out in London.