“Change your city, change your luck.” It is a Jewish saying, my osteopath told me.
In a Russian fairy tale, the Tzar bids his sons go into an open field with their bows and arrows, and aim into the air. Where their arrows land, there lie their fortunes.
In my case, I wrote the names of seven cities on small pieces of paper, folded them into tiny squares, put them in a mug and shook. I closed my eyes and pulled one out. So be it. I unfolded the paper and read the name of an old city, built on a land so flat, the horizon goes on for ever, and where the skies are colourful and moody; where there is no mountain or hill to tame the wind. A city of linguists and scribes.
I have lived in London for nineteen intense years. Intense, because it cannot be otherwise, in London. It is a city that flings open its doors and offers you the best of everything money can buy. Theatre, concerts, art, restaurants, libraries, etc. Whether you like the sophisticated boutiques of the Burlington Arcade, the self-styled scruffiness of Camden Town, or the quirkiness of Notting Hill, all you have to do, is ask – as long as you can pay. If you cannot pay, though, the doors of all those rooms of glitter and possibilities slam shut in your face. If you have no money, your London is a draughty, lonely corridor of unforgiving grey.
I am weary of looking through other people’s windows. Of spending Christmas alone because one of London’s aberrations is no public transport whatsoever for thirty-six hours. Of rents soaring while my income slumps. I am weighed down by my sackful of errors and failures, which London does not forgive.
I am black and blue with London’s knocks and am tired of focusing my energy on fighting back. My back is stiff and hunched. It is time to stop fighting and start building. I do not want to hear “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Instead, I will heed the warning of one of Literature’s most perceptive observers of human nature, Somerset Maugham, that “It is not true that suffering enobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.”
Dickens shows us that it is misery and loss that gradually harden Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart. He is not born cruel.
If I leave London, I shall miss it. I think of hearing so many different languages on the bus, of warm crusty bread from the Turkish Bakery, of poppy seed cake from the Polish shop and of soft leather shoes from the Italian store. I think of the thrill filling up my heart when the orchestra tunes up at the Royal Opera House, and of the excitement at hearing the opening chords of a West End musical. I think of the high-gloss polish of a stage actor’s velvet voice, uttering powerful, soul-stirring words. I think of French breakfast on a summer’s morning, on the Old Compton Street pavement, before Soho is fully awake. I think of the luxury of a West End Opening Night party, where it is so easy to forget there is an economic crisis just outside the shiny revolving doors. I must remember that I can no longer afford any of that. Theatre tickets are now out of my reach, and Soho breakfasts seem like too much of an extravagance.
I think for as long as you are able to imagine good things happening, there is always the possibility they might happen. It is imagination that keeps you alive. But if you lose the ability to imagine, then it is time to move on, and look for something new to capture and revive your imagination. Time – at least to consider the possibility of change. Time to straighten up and look beyond the horizon.
And so, time to pack my suitcase.
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I wish you a peaceful move and graceful transition into your new home, and I look forward to seeing it through your eyes.
Thank you for your kind thoughts.
somethime one just needs to flip their life upside down, good few years ago I moved from crazy busy city in one country to middle of nowhere village in other country and never regretted it, not for a second, have a wonderful time changing places and I have to tell you.: Amsterdam does have all London’s good things you talking about here and far less bad :p and you can get everywhere on you bike! 😀 maybe this is the place to be? 🙂
I’ve never been to Amsterdam. A colleague of mine moved there with his family, about ten years ago, and said the standard of living was much better than in London. My hat comes off to you for having made such a significant move. Thank you for reading and commenting.
You have taken the best of London by the sound of it as well as some knocks along the way. Wish I was coming with you and all the best for where you are going. Where?
Thank you for reading and commenting. Where am I going? Please be patient. All will become clear… :–)
It is sad that you have felt apart from the main hum of things. I trust that you will find connection, opportunities and flow in your windy city. Why am I thinking Chicago? A bit too far on a limited budget I’m sure. Happy landings Katia.
Thank you so much for your kind words. No. It’s not Chicago. I’m staying in the UK. Where, exactly, will be revealed in due course :–)
Lovely blog, Scribedoll, and beautifully written. You’re right, London can be the most wonderful place if you’re prepared to pay, but is being turned insane by money, fear of money, lack of money, lust for money, money anxiety …… must be funny, as the song goes …. on another note, upset that ‘Tim’ is writing off Leicester, a very interesting place, though I may be with him on Stoke ……
Thank you, Hemingway – lovely to have a comment from you again. I don’t think ‘Tim” intended to write off Leicester, except in as far as it didn’t match my sketchy description. Right, ‘Tim’?
Very unexpected Katia. But being tired of living in London as you are, and having less money than needed to sustain a decent living…. Well, I hope you will find a nice and comfortable place to live. May your new home give rise to many more interesting and marvellous posts which have given me great delight since I subscribed to your blog. Live your life to the full! Be happy!
Thank you ever so much, Anna. Here’s hoping :–)
Best of luck Katia. May the new place/home make your spirit soar towards a new horizon and nourish your work.
Thank you so much! :–)
It will be a lucky city, this city of flats and wind, of linguists, to play host to you. Enjoy the sense of freedom that new horizons bring. New people to meet, new places to explore. Take wing, and imagine.
Your comment honours me deeply. Thank you.
I know what you mean about London – good luck in all your future adventures in………..?
Thank you very much! And do watch this space…
I’m so sorry that London has been unfaithful to the promises it made you when you moved there, because I have loved reading your posts. But I too know what it’s like to be in a city with an excellent symphony, lovely art galleries, magnificent bistros and cultural events, and to be unable to enjoy it because I don’t have the money. And I comfort myself with the thought that YOU are the source of your wonderful posts, not the city of London, and I know that wherever you end up, you will certainly have lots to say that interests me. I await the next chapter in your posting life with the proverbial “bated breath” to see where you fetch up!
That is such a sweet comment! Thank you! If you notice, I have recently sneakily changed my blog title from LONDONER’S MUSINGS to SCRIBE DOLL’S MUSINGS because it occurred to me that, in practice, most of what I write isn’t actually connected with London.
So please keep reading and giving your wonderful, much-appreciated support… :–)
I hadn’t noticed! Best wishes for your next step. Sue
Thank you, Sue. Please keep reading…
Brave Katia! And at last someone acknowledging that the mantra what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is not always the case.
I left London after many many years for a very different city , not chosen out of a hat but out of necessity . A fresh start. I still love London but it will always be there waiting. Your life, your future,will not wait. It must be lived now.
Embrace your new city – I am sure it will open up to you. All the best for an exciting future!
Oh, I’m not brave, trust me! It’s just that sometimes, when things are really grim, you have to try and escape!
Thank you for your lovely, encouraging comment.
The willingness to escape is a form of bravery. Bravo for you! And I can’t wait to hear where you’ll end up. An endless horizon promises to bring less gray with it.
Watch this space! Will be sure to report from my “tentative” new home. Thank you so much for your kind words.
Intrigued, getting out the atlas. Have already ruled out Leicester and Stoke on Trent.
Patience… All will be revealed in good time :–)
And I also agree with this! There is life outside London to be had. A whole big world of adventure! Up, up and away!! xxx
Beautifully written and inspiring! But I’m dying to know, where is the city on the flatland to which you are headed?
Thank you for your kind words. The name of the city will be revealed in time…
There’s plenty of Culture to be had outside the capital city. Go for it. Spread your wings and fly!
Thank you for this deeply heartfelt wish! :–)
If you leave you will be very much missed but London will always be here for you. This made me think of the Joni Mitchell song Urge for Going so this is for you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8DVk2SSsfo
Just listened to the song. Love it! Thank you for this parting gift.