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Lovesick for London

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 26 March 2012 | Views [167] | Scholarship Entry

I met Sonya at Tottenham Road, outside of the Tube station. She was smiling, a heavyset woman who immediately embraced me. I was surprised by her open affection, especially since we were only just meeting. We had spoken several times online and so were acquainted, but her seeming joy was disconcerting, and I told her so.
“Not all English women are cold and unfeeling,” she said with a wink, and I laughed.
We headed toward Soho, to a shop where the dresses were made only of vintage fabric. It was a crowded store, with only room for the cashier and four patrons. I fell in love with a dress patterned with owls and turtles but refused to try it on due to its 270-pound price tag. Sonya insisted we leave before I fell in love with it anyway and had my heart broken over it.
Soho was bustling. It was late February, and uncommonly warm. People were out in droves. I had my coat slung over my arm, letting the sunshine fall on my shoulders. The streets were loud with shoppers talking and laughing, the tinkering glasses and silverware of cafes, the taxis beeping their way through the crowds. I felt suddenly like I was at home, wandering the shopping districts of Chicago, and wondered if all cities were able to make me feel like I would be silly to be homesick.
There was a comic book shop that was two levels, one of which was underground. It was crowded, stuffed with books and swarming with people. Sonya and I sat in the corner of the basement, and she stacked books upon books in my arms, writers and artists I had never heard of. Sonya bought action figures that she said her boyfriend would loathe, and we retired to a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant for dinner.
It was rundown, with peeling paint and mismatched decorations. I loved it instantly. Of all the places I’d eaten in London, this made me feel most like London was a real city. I had to catch a 5:30 coach to Canterbury from Victoria Station. I didn’t want to leave, and I could always buy another ticket, so I stayed.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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