London at night

An anniversary and an accidental photo

It’s been seven years this month since I moved to London from my little (cheap) studio apartment in Pittsburgh.  It’s an anniversary that is getting scarily close to double digits. I found a photo I took on Waterloo bridge, about a year after I moved, and I feel a very strange sensation.

It’s been long enough now that 7 years seems like a lifetime ago. It’s most of my adult life. It’s been 7 years since I moved, last seen Pittsburgh, last lived in the country of my birth. It’s been 7 years since I’ve driven a car. So much has happened, so many new experiences and adventures and while much of who I am has stayed the same, there is much that has changed. Imagining myself taking this photo, knowing I was there 6 years ago, I feel a strange sense of disconnection.

I remember taking the picture, it was an accident. I didn’t realise the big double-decker bus was about to go past and since the camera was on an automatic setting,  I didn’t know it had set itself to a long exposure. The horizontal lights from the bus  framing the Eye and Parliament was a surprise. I remember what I felt and I remember showing off the photo to people I’ve now not spoken to in years.

Always the dreamer, I remember what I thought my life would be like years later, as I edge closer to the big 3 – 0. I remember thinking who I thought I would be, what I thought I would be doing and what I thought my job would be. I remember things I loved doing then and don’t do now. 7 years later, things are mostly very different from what I thought, but not all of it.

I think I’ve been having something like a quarter life crisis and when I look at this photo it gives me a funny feeling.  The glowing sky and neon lights passing over the static bridge and buildings that have been there for hundreds of years help me visualise this feeling. It’s a feeling of disconnection and objectivity from the passage of time. It’s a feeling that without photos like this, it’s almost like it didn’t happen. It’s a feeling of standing in place while the world turns around me.

Now, I don’t think it’s a crisis of living abroad or a sadness for what has passed. Although, I there has been an internal battle going on between what could have been, what I wanted and what I want and what I have now. How do I mediate between them? How can this much time pass and all those memories be encased in 7 years? How can a lot of my dreams still be dreams after this much time? And when do you develop different dreams? And is that just giving up? Settling?

The fact is that most things are the same, some are better and the rest is just different. I’ve wanted to travel since I was a kid and now I am. I wanted to live in a big city and now I am. The rest is falling into place one way or another. The specific dreams may be different but the sentiment is the same. I may be at work most days and not out gallivanting as a student and I may have to pay London rent and I may be neither a librarian or a hipster, but life is still being lived, the world is still turning. The adventures I have now may not have been what I planned to have, but that’s the joy in it, isn’t it?


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