I guide her through the centre of the city, but feel like she’s missing the heart of it.
I’m showing her Covent Garden, but it’s morning, it’s quiet, there’s no one there. She can’t see what it’s like when the food stalls are out, when it’s too busy to move, when a band is playing, when it’s dark and a guitarist sings an old song you’ve heard in other cities, when you find a quiet corner to sit with a friend.
What do I show her? How do I bring her in?
This is Borough Market. This is the Thames. This is St Paul’s.
But the city moves through these places. It is its own cathedral, its own river, its own market where people wander through flavours to choose the right one, for that moment.
What are your impressions? I ask.
It’s really international. People are well dressed. It’s cold. But I came here to see you as much as to see the city.
And that’s when I understand that she’s already inside the city, because she’s inside me. Every part of this city has a link somewhere else. The Roman buildings, the American coffee shops…the river that runs to the sea.
She might not see all the bars where I’ve shared drinks with friends, all the art on the walls, the food in the restaurants, the people on the streets, the north the south the east the west in night in day in spring in summer and winter and autumn in rain and snow and sun and when you’re tired and when your bursting with energy, when you can’t stop smiling, when you cry in front of strangers, when you need somewhere safe.
She won’t depend on it. She won’t learn who she is in it. She won’t put her roots in it.
She won’t see it all. I won’t see it all. You can’t see it all. Even the smallest places are too big to capture every detail. It all becomes lost in the fog.
Then, as I pass other people passing through, I realise that half of the city is on the outside, looking in. Part of the city is those people. Part of the heart, the core, the inside, is the movement, the change, the breath of the outside.
Rosa Lia has recently finished her degree in Comparative Literature at King’s College London. At the moment she is helping out with Mellow9 Productions, which amongst other things, films spoken word with artists such as Dean Atta. She’s currently working on numerous writing projects, including a short children’s book. Her travel blog can be seen at http://throughthewardrobe-rosa.blogspot.co.uk/