I am in love with my city. I think that’s an important thing to be when you’ve chosen to make a place your home. I understand that a lot of people are where they are because of work, or because of family, or simply because they’ve never thought of being anywhere else. For me though, being a Londoner is a choice. Yes it is where I work and where my immediate family (and chosen family) reside, but I have thought about living other places too.
When I was younger there was always the thought that I could go and live in the Philippines. I’d spent a fair amount of my childhood there, and it’s where almost all of my family are. My last trip there though confirmed that though I could probably spend an extended amount of time there I wouldn’t choose to live there. On that side of the world, Cambodia too. I love Siem Reap. At first I dismissed the commercialism of it all, but once I got past that I found a city more different than any I’d ever been to. But again, an extended amount of time possibly, but not a lifetime.
There are the US cities of course. San Francisco, if I were to live anywhere on the West Coast then it would be there. I’ve learnt to live with the fog and the rapid change in weather and I know almost all the good places to find food – always important. Hawaii, the whole state is somewhere I would gladly be. I can’t imagine ever having to earn a living there though, it would just feel wrong. It is perhaps though one of the few places I can go to truly just chill. Always, New York. If you’d believe my friends then this city is still on the cards for me. Who knows? Perhaps one day. It is a place where I am able to be. For now, London is home.
I try not to take my city fore-granted. I used to spend many days just me and my city. Walking her streets and taking time to look at all the hidden secrets that go unnoticed. Lately I find myself with less time to spend so much time with her. Other demands mean I have become neglectful. These past few months though I have taken the time to reacquaint myself with my oldest of friends, and I am reminded of why I love my city.
One of the main reasons I have remembered to really look at my city is The Elephant Parade that has come to London, and will sadly be leaving in a few weeks once all of the elephants have been auctioned off. These beautiful sculptures, set amongst London’s streets to add some colour and adventure to our lives are there to remind us of the plight of the Asian Elephant. Most of us, fortunately, do not face the fear of extinction in our homes, they do.
I, like many other LDNers, set about “hunting” these beautiful creatures, and in doing so I have discovered and rediscovered parts of my city. The walks I take are well-trodden, they have become some of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon so when I do have the time they are where I go. My hunt has made me go to parts of the city that I have never ventured into. I have walked the same path as merchant bankers through Bank and The Royal Stock Exchange. I rediscovered a market that I haven’t been to since I was 14yrs old and on a school trip. I went to where the Mayor lives and I have found hidden patches of green when I thought I knew almost all of London’s green spaces. I have come to know my city again, and all because my hunt for these elephants have taken me down roads and side-streets I had never thought to explore.