The pace of a city shapes it. Rio rotates to the rhythms of samba, Rome struts, and Sydney saunters. This week I returned to London, a city that races through its days. Any visitor who has ever been here and made the mistake of standing on the left of an escalator will have experienced the city’s impatience. There is always somewhere to go next, someone to get ahead of, a next step to achieve. We rush, and we race.
I relished this pace for years. I fed off it and exhilarated in its excitement. London was alive and I was buzzing within it. I could imagine living no place else – I’d be bored, forever ruined by the city’s magnificence.
But ten years passed, and with them the city began to wear. The rapids no longer carried, but wore away my energy. It was time to come up for breath.
I took that breath for 30 months, through South America, Asia and Europe. I dipped in and out of streams – the barefooted amble of the beach, the spiritual fervour of Bali, the stroll and cycle of Berlin. I was no longer racing, I was perusing ways of life.
This week, I jumped back in to the river I’d once escaped. I was in the London race. I skipped down the escalators, I flitted from spot to spot – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I smiled at the life. I was re-exhilarated by the vibe, the forward pelt of all its people.
London sucks you in. It slaps you in you the face then catches you in its tide. I reeled from it at first sight, but quickly fell in step with the vibe. I love this city, I feed off it, I fall to its allure. But I know there’s a reason I left. It’s fast pace wears me thin.
I can play in these rapids, I can revel in them, but I need someplace else to swim.
What’s the pace of your hometown? Or what’s your ideal?