GREAT EXPECTATIONS

So often in life, when you build something up, it’s bound to disappoint. It could be anything—a new restaurant or pair of shoes. London fell into that category. Having never spent time in London (aside from a layover), I was excited to spend the week here—even more so as a family. London is obviously one of the iconic cities of the world, and I have seen enough photos and watched enough films to be able to identify the city landmarks. From the Royal Monarchy to Royal Albert Hall, my preconceived notions of London were monumental. But I am always suspicious of a sure thing, and enough people had told me London was great for me to begin to worry. I shouldn’t have.img_2952London is fantastic. It’s awesome and big and busy and yet incredibly well behaved. It’s a place where people strip down in a public park on a sunny day and drink large cans of beer on the street or riding the train. It’s a place that moves a million miles a minute…but with manners. It’s diversity makes Los Angeles look homogenous, and you might hear up to ten languages spoken in a single day. And yet, there is a real sense of community here. There is a sense of pride. Although nearly every person you meet roots for a different English football club, they all root for England. Many have crossed oceans to arrive here. Now they cross bridges that gracefully traverse the Thames. The water flows underneath. London is their home. Each neighborhood bursts with its own personality. Each museum is more magical than the next. The Churches are glorious—some the eternal home to many of the best-loved thinkers and writers the world has ever known. And every square has a story of the greatness that has inhabited it. Palaces stand proudly, and the London eye looks out over the world.img_2935At every turn, London outdoes itself. And yet, amidst all of London’s historical achievements, it remains so endearingly human. One night, after a day of seeing the sights, our family was strolling through Leicester Square on our way to Piccadilly Circus when we stopped to listen to a fantastic young musician (Murdo Mitchell) armed with only a guitar. A large crowd had gathered around to take in the performance, when an old man standing in front of us grabbed the arm of young woman to dance. She hesitated for a moment and then obliged, stepping into the circle to take a few rhythmic steps with the man, who was in his mid-eighties at the very least. It was all very lovely and innocent, and you could sense his joy as he shuffled carefully with the young lady in the night air. It was such a wonderful moment, such a human moment. My wife turned to our sons and said, “That is life. That is real life. That’s living.” London, and the people who live here, seem to do it impossibly well.

5 Comments

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  1. Congratulations on starting your great adventure. I cannot wait to see the pictures and read all about it. I’m living vicariously through you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, London! A truly wonderful city!

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  3. Ahhh London, my old stomping ground! So tickled that you all loved it as much as I did on my semester abroad in college. Definitely one of mom and dad’s favorite cities too!

    Love,
    sis/ KJ/ Auntie K

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  4. London sounds cool. I wish I went with you. Love, Jessie

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