Tuesday, August 6, 2013

32 hours of freedom

I had the night off last weekend, and a day either side - amounting to a full 32 hours off parenting. Off singing The Grand Old Duke of York, or any other nonsense, and being rewarded with smiles and giggles. Off providing milk, and mushy puree, and being sprinkled with milky sick or smeared with regurgitated veg. Off bathing, reading stories, providing silly but enjoyable massages, and cuddling. Oh and off changing nappies.

What bliss! Yes, I'd miss the cuddles and smiles. But still, a couple of days and a night of pure selfish frivolity, what a treat!

My time off began with a long train ride, which I spent gazing at and sighing over Vogue. I headed Down South to spend the night with my Wondertwin, so called because of the terrifying sameness (according to TLOML) of our outlook on all shallow matters, from the best kind of bracelet, to clumpy black mascara, to nuts in bars. We also had the same idea about how to spend my night of freedom: setting the world to rights over a bottle of vino collapso and a fancy salad. It was brilliant.

The next day I returned home via London. Which meant a whirlwind pop-in at the home of North London's Outstanding Family (our former landlords), and a hastily consumed lunch with four old friends. Also all brilliant. Much gossip was exchanged and fun was had. London was looking especially lovely in the sunshine and I loved walking around my former 'hood.
Leafy Hampstead

Shops! People! Hustle and bustle!
Here's the bit where I'm supposed to say how much I missed Lady P, and how surprised I was by quite how very very sorely I felt being away from her. I hate to disappoint, but I confess I did not miss her. I love Lady P very much, but since every day with her is very much the same, and I know I'll be seeing her the next day for more of that lovely sameness, a day without her is not spent mourning her absence. (Though I did get thrilling butterflies on seeing her and TLOML again on my return, I will admit).

Now I've got that off my chest, here's another shocking revelation. London did not fill me with insatiable 'I love London' desire, the way it used to. For years before I moved to London I burned for it with an unquenchable fire. And for the twelve years that I did live there I hated to leave. Every time I returned - whether from a day trip, a weekend, or a long holiday - I was filled with a deep, calm sense of joy. After I moved to the States, I felt that same joy, that 'this is the place to be' feeling of rightness, every time I visited.

And now? I felt - whisper it - kinda 'been there, done that', about it. Yes, it was quite exciting seeing people wearing heels in the day time. You don't see much of that in Saltburn. (I could single-handedly fix that I suppose. Imagine the talk if I started tottering around Sainsburys in heels.) And I enjoyed that buzz, the jostle of languages and colours and crazy outfits that are just part of the backdrop of life in London. But I enjoyed it as a tourist might, as a spectacle with no personal relevance. I enjoyed it without wanting it for myself. It was as if London belonged to a different me. I loved seeing old friends, of course, and felt that familiar sadness that it doesn't happen more often - but that's just life, growing old, and moving around a lot, I suppose. I dealt with that one years ago. Yes, it was all very nice but just not for me anymore.

Shocking, I know. I always said they'd have to carry me out in a box, after all. But now I've been 'carried out' (in cars and planes, fortunately, still breathing), to Los Angeles, New York, and Saltburn, I seem to have lost my inner Londoner.

Perhaps Saltburn has made me soft. Reluctant to queue, take crowded public transport, wear heels in the day time etc. If so, it's a change that probably began in beachy old Malibu, and might explain why I didn't loved New York as much as I expected to. I've been ruined by a laidback coastal lifestyle.

Or it's just a little subconscious post-rationalisation. It cannot be mine - not for now anyway - so I don't want it anyway. Either way it's a feeling that's probably best left alone, without further examination. I'm running the risk of scaring and offending a lot of die-hard Londoners with this post, so let's leave it here (it's rather long already). Least said, soonest mended. And if we do get the chance to return to London, I hope to God my inner Londoner mends herself.

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