Daily Prompt: Irksome
A month has passed ever since I moved to London.
A new city. A new chapter in life.
I knew I’d get here one day. It was something that I promised myself all those years ago after dad was done with his Masters and my family returned to Malaysia. It was a mantra, somewhere along the lines of: ‘I haven’t figured how I’d get there, but I’ll be back.’ There was probably a reason why I created it and held on so tightly- or maybe it was simply a child’s whim.
But I held on to it, regardless.
It’s been a fascinating month here; full of excitement and childlike wonder that I hadn’t realised I’d lost somewhere as I grew up. Suddenly, everything was my playground again. There were places to see, new friends to meet, different food to taste. So many things, so little time.
I’d wake up every morning wrapped up in my duvet, and it would take awhile for my brain to process that I’m grown up now. A young woman miles away from home, away from the safe arms of family and out in the world. A young woman with responsibilities and obligations, but free to wander as far as my legs would take me, and free to breathe in the cold air until my lungs hurt.
But London is so big and while some mornings I open my window feeling more alive than ever, others I can’t help feeling how small I am and how cold the wind can be. I keep smiling but most of the time, people don’t smile back. The weather can be miserable but as I walk down Oxford Street one evening, I notice that people dress even more miserably. My bright blue headscarf stood out brightly against the crowd of dull greys and browns and blacks. My pink umbrella was a hint of colour in the darkness of an evening that came too quickly. And my heart ever so slightly sunk.
I come back to my room, the smell of cigarettes still strong in my mind. I hear people laughing outside the small pub just down the road from the student hall where I live. By 6 p.m., most shops close and with the chill biting into my bones, there’s really no place left to go but home. Home is no longer a full house with cats and doting parents and a warm meal waiting for you. No, home is now a small, ensuite room with a yellowish tint to the single overhead lightbulb and instant noodles with hot water.
My squash racquet lay in a corner, new and unused. On my laptop, I’ve opened several tabs of potential art and craft workshops that I’ve been interested in. Another is a cool, ghost bus tour I’ve been meaning to go with some friends. We’ve already bought tickets to go to the London Dungeon and Madame Tussaud’s. I haven’t seen a cat in ages. Just yesterday, I paid £5 to pet several cats at a cat cafe.
Apparently, nothing in London is free.
Not even warmth.
It frustrates the girl who grew up with the sun kissing her skin, the girl of reds and blues and purples, the girl who looked up to see blue skies speckled with fluffy clouds or sparkling stars.
And I ask her: ‘Was this really what you wanted all those years ago?’
There are days when I know the answer. Those days when I’m smiling and laughing and on a friend’s bed, trading stories. And the rest of the days, I stare out the window and hope tomorrow brings an answer.
East Central House, London
7.20 PM, Monday