I have always wondered how it feels to have a place to call home: I have lived in so many places, that I still wouldn’t be able to tell where’s mine. Each of them was home, for a short while; in each of them I put my hope and my trust, again and again, like a betrayed child who still can’t help looking at the world with innocent eyes. But something always led me to leave – a new opportunity, an insurmountable problem, or just life.
I felt a bit like dying when I left France after four months, and when I moved out of the flat I shared as a student as well; and yet I knew I had taken all I could from those places, I knew they had already given me all they could offer to someone like me. After all, in Italian, leaving and dying are two verbs that rhyme; no surprises, right? On the other hand, the day when flying to London stopped being a pious hope and became a fixed date on my calendar was one of the happiest ever; perhaps, I have been happier when my flight actually landed: hey, I made it, I’ve been dreaming of this for years and now I’m here!
So long to leaving and dying, then; actually, I prefer much more the English assonance with living. I wonder how many times I confused them when I was in school; I remember it took me ages to learn the difference between forgive and forget.
Yes, I’d like London to be my home. Actually, I’d like London to treat me well: to recognize my perseverance, to accord me an accomplice wink from time to time…at least, because I have dreamt of it for years. Ten years, almost eleven now. Way more than I granted to any of my fleeting, unconfessed teenage crushes – and yet, I can tell you each of them resided in this messy mind for quite a long time, back then.
London has been my true love for almost half of my life; now that we’re finally bonded together, I love it even more. Like all careless lovers, it keeps messing with my mind, continuously asking me for absurd sacrifices that every time I say I won’t make…but in the end I just can’t help falling victim of its charm, believing its promises, reopening the innocent child’s eyes and hoping for the best. I desperately want London to be my home.
I don’t want the place I grew up in to make any more maternity claims: see, I AM your home, you just booked a flight to come back on a weekend!
Come on, I answer angrily, you’re a shithole, you’ll never be more than a hit-and-run retreat…
…and it relentlessly insists: HA! You just admitted I give you relief, unlike that other friggin’ metropolis.
It sounds like an argument between an abandoned, old mommy and her young daughter claiming she must have been a changeling. Who loves who, and who hates who other, is probably destined to remain unclear; what’s sure is that I still want to believe in London and me. I want to see the world, travel, explore, walk upon each and every street until my legs can’t take it anymore – and yes, I also want to be looked after in my hate-loved shithole, from time to time. But at the end of all holidays, of all trips, of all vacations, I want to come back to London, and know for sure it still has something in store for me. Something I’ll have to struggle to get, perhaps, but I don’t really care; not anymore.
Anything goes, as long as this is not another one-way affair.