A Farewell Love Letter to London
Sydney-based Harriet Cheney reflects on her time living in London:
I love you London, but never with all of my heart.
Never in a way that uplifts me or completes me.
Just in a way of mutual respect; in a way that I wholeheartedly acknowledge your abundance and pockets of pure magic.
The love I feel for you stems from the gratitude that I have towards you.
You taught me to let go of control and ride the wave of the ever-humming city.
You taught me that my best is good enough, even on the shittest days, when I haven’t slept, am late for work, have lost my house key and am almost broke again – because being a little bit shit sometimes is just part of being human.
You taught me that I can’t possibly do everything and instead should ask myself, “What do I really want to do?”
You taught be about different cultures and languages and enforced comparison that shone a light onto what I love and really don’t love about my own country.
You called me down the right path when I was confused by too many options, introduced me to the most wonderful people with whom I will forever be friends and expanded my mind through constant cultural stimulation.
London, you are intellectual, sensible and competitive. But you are also strong, full of opportunities and possibilities and the keeper of surprises, secrets and a dark fascinating underworld.
You are not agile or whimsical or shiny or even particularly stylish. You are practical, sturdy and seep into the hearts of your inhabitants with time – much like the brutalist architecture that stands stubbornly throughout you.
I love you because you challenged me in so many ways when a challenge was exactly what I was seeking. You made me aware of what I needed to thrive and gave me countless chances to try and fail and experiment and just to play under the luxurious umbrella of anonymity.
You shielded me with your night, revived me with your parks, drove me demented with all your people, all your pollution and all your grey skies.
But… I love you still, for the resilience you cemented inside of me and for the confidence and wisdom that scaling you walls afforded me.
I love you London because you so beautifully helped me get to know and love myself. I won’t miss your harsh daily teachings, but I will remember them fondly and credit them as a solid and crucial foundation in the jigsaw of my life.
Words and photos by Harriet Cheney.