I arrived in London for an extended visit earlier this summer and I felt like an explorer. 6 weeks, that’s how long I’d have in the city the Romans set up almost 2,000 years prior. I felt like an explorer, as I rode the train to my friends’ flat with excitement for what was in store. And when I arrived there, they handed me the greatest gifts.
A bed. A bike. Community. And their friendship. The last one wasn’t new, but it is what held the rest of those together, it was the mortar.
That’s what made the place so familiar to me. I mapped out the cafes and found my favorites. I visited most of the parks within many miles. I rode the streets and breathed the crisp London-summer air. I spent time each week with handfuls of people who meet at an old Ethiopian church to encourage one another and live intentionally.
But while I adored the adventures of climbing a tree and reading in Victoria Park, wandering through the tropical jungle of the Kew Gardens Palm House, and biking around looking locations from Harry Potter filming, it was the people that made my the time worth it.
Enjoying in-depth conversations. Seeing a play with Jihan after work. Grabbing lunch with Dustin in the middle of a busy week. Going on an unexpectedly wonderful trip to Bournemouth. Seeing the same baristas regularly and staying after close to sing 90s pop with them. These were the things that stepped into my life when I arrived in London as I looked for rest and adventure and camaraderie as I traveled.
Those experience cauterized my time in London to be something special. And they were profound enough that the city is no longer a place I’ve visited a few times, but it is a home—and a brilliant one, at that.