To the passenger of an in-flight Boeing 767, the city at night pulsates. The tiny headlights and brakelights of cars weave between a glittery web of orange pinpricks. They twinkle in and out of view, creating a rhythm of movement that makes the land look alive. This was how I first saw London. The sun was just beginning to rise.
The rest of the journey was a bit less magical. I dutifully and unsuccessfully attempted to sleep a few hours on the flight, determinedly nibbled my way through a United Airlines croissant, opened and closed my mouth at least 200 times trying in vain to pop my woefully congested right ear canal, realized too late I didn’t print in all caps and scribbled out half my landing card, walked half a mile with two suitcases in tow to reach Terminal 3, and sat as though a zombie through an hour bus ride to the hotel.
I’ve been to London before, the summer after my freshman year of high school. At that time, my main impression of it was that everything was small and cute – from the speed limit signs on the highway to the houses and apartments on the roads. To be honest, I share the same impression now. But this time, I feel differently. Sitting in this hotel room and listening to the whirring and clanking of construction outside my window, I feel that London is a real place. A place full of alleys and hole-in-the-wall shops for me to explore, full of museums and tourist traps and parks, full of neighbors.
Naturally, I’m sad to be so far from my friends and family for so long. But I also feel a rumbling excitement glowing and expanding in my chest. So now, after a solid nap, it’s time to venture out and meet my new home.