We are not taking the tube today, so let’s take a walk to school.
Every day, I repeat a 25-minute walk to campus. I hold my breath as I break into the crisp, cold air that smells of fresh rain, confirmed by the patches of puddles ahead.
My chest tightens as I realize that I’ve forgotten my umbrella, and releases when I remember that some bastard from the movies took it when I fell asleep to a two-hour black-and-white nonsense.
Being in London without an umbrella is like walking without shoes. But have no fear, locals don’t hide from the rain: They conquer it.
Most days, the walk to the Thames involves me avoiding eye contact with distressed corporate workers commuting from the other side of the river. With their frustration wrapped in their trench coats, they sip on their emotional baggage, caffeinated.
If I am lucky, I’d spot a school group — young minds hidden under their yellow caps, clustered around each other as they marched down the sidewalk, probably avoiding eye contact with me.
The circle of life.
Living on the South Bank of London means crossing the Thames to get to school, for better or worse. The Thames lost a quarter of its charm when someone told me it gives you cholera, but then again, Love in the ‘Thame’ of Cholera. True story.
The Blackfriars Bridge exchanges thousands of students and workers between the banks. It is a great place to people watch, a runway playing “Under Pressure” (Remastered 2011) with pedestrians’ footsteps as beats while I secretly add autumn-winter fashion inspo to my mental Pinterest board.
I quietly count the number of leather jackets, fur coats and suited men. As the temperature drops, leather jackets yield to puffer jackets, but the suited men remain suited.
This morning, I decided to skip the shortcut through a legal headquarters and take the path next to the river instead. The sidewalk is covered in yellow foliage, still moist from — you guessed it — the rain.
The morning sun after a storm is always soft and a bit reserved. Unlike the usual warm golden beams, it lines the silhouettes of everything with a silver glow.
Waking up five minutes before class and still making it on time feels like a distant memory, flashing quickly in my mind as I turn off my alarm set 45 minutes ahead of my class time.
Paying attention to my surroundings has made what I used to complain about a morning ritual. Within this fast-paced city that easily overwhelms me, I construct my moments of familiarity through which I slowly become embedded in this foreign space.
It’s currently 3 a.m., and on the back burner, I plan my breakfast tomorrow.
It just started raining outside. What else is new?