London Bridge is falling down, falling down…
London, like 2018, is complex for me.
Two years ago, I came to London on a 3 day trip with my once-friend. It was a rich cultural excursion filled with lots of fun activities and sites, but it was also a lesson. I lost someone whom I once considered close and started doubting myself on that trip.
2018 was similar in that sense. It was an emotionally turbulent year, but filled with unique, unparalleled experiences. I did not doubt my choices – on the contrary, I built my confidence in them back up – but I started doubting other things. Dreams. Identity. Relationships.
It’s now 2019 and I am starting off the year in London.
Yesterday, I met one of my friends from my recent semester in Japan. I was happy to see her and we had a good time catching up.
But perhaps it’s the jet lag speaking – the double jet lag of both America and Japan, 14 hours plus 5 hours – because I still feel like I’m stuck in the past. And not just by 19 hours, but by months, maybe years.
For example, I was standing under The Shard and thinking about the last time I went up to a city observatory – the Shinjuku Metropolitan Government Building. I had gone up there with my other friend on his birthday. We played a kind of game of “I Spy” – we found the university in Western Tokyo where we’d been studying, and we found tennis courts on a rooftop. Little places in a big world.
I remembered, too, sitting at the low tables of an udon restaurant and watching my friends – the one in London and the one I met in Shinjuku – with not burning jealousy so much as simple pain at the way their elbows would touch, how they’d lean in.
I’d heard yesterday that the very same day I’d spent with him, they’d been talking, exchanging their playful banter as usual, when he hadn’t been talking to me at all. Seemingly deliberately avoiding me. I wonder if they were also thinking of those clandestine touches, too.
I wondered if it was all just an illusion, then – those nights where he wrapped his arms around me and kissed my neck. If I made it up because I’m naïve and idealistic. Or if he was, rather, playing a role because he didn’t quite realize you can’t have a cake and eat it too. Maybe it was both.
I know that 2019 will be a year where I’ll have to let go. And while I believe, on the one hand, that imposing borders such as calendar pages on time is useless, I can’t help too but hope that these strictly defined boundaries will force me to relegate these past experiences to just that – the past.
I hope that these new memories – of walking down Tower Bridge at night, getting knocked over in the Tube, eating fish and chips at the pub – will overwrite the narrative I’d been reciting in my head for a while now. And I hope that new memories in France as well will make me forget, in a way, about Japan and the fact that what I had wanted was maybe not meant to be, and not only that, but I was perhaps just a knot in another red string. I hope that in 2019, I can move on from the tumult of my own feelings. I hope that in 2019, I will be able to forget.
And in the process of forgetting, I’ll rebuild my memory bank from scratch, and perhaps in doing so, start believing again relationships, identity, and the dreams that I carry.