I’m so tired I can’t think and speaking is laborious. Navigating my way around town is challenging: my legs dragging hard against my feet, my inner compass spinning; everything the wrong way around. It’s not just the landscape that’s different: the streets themselves have changed, shifting before my eyes.
Trying to walk to Regent Street, I end up on Shaftesbury Avenue: China Town dead ahead, Compton Street behind. Spinning…, turning…, I attempt to reacquaint myself, calling on instincts that have fled. Eventually, accepting futility, I slip into a café. People huddle together, hunched over tables that are too small for adults; sipping tepid drinks that cost twice what they should, what they do outside of London. Noses glowing, eyes streaming: they are full of germs.
I wait in-line and order a latte. Cold and flat (I don’t get this obsession with luke-warm coffee, especially in winter), we’re a perfect match. Shedding my coat, I take out my iPad. My only friend, it’s screen offers me access to a world I no longer inhabit and may never visit again. This is sad: the leaving and the isolation. Lowering my head, I try to fight the loneliness.
Do I miss it: the place, the climate, the lifestyle, the people? I’m not sure. Bits and pieces, yes. But the entirety? My emotions are so tangled, my body so tired: I can’t tell left from right, right from wrong.
Forward-facing, fast-pacing: backwards has become a blur, a sinking horizon concealed beneath a fog shroud.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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