I have a love/hate relationship with traveling to extremely populous cities. At the start of a trip, I loathe the experience of crowds and traffic and the general vulgarity of having to prove oneself worthy of inclusion in a megalopolis society. But after day three, my personality kicks in. My Aries, only-child, center of the universe personality kicks in and reminds me that I am so worthy. I deserve to be here as much as anyone else. No one need grant me permission because I am capable of seizing it.
My epiphany on this trip to London, England, came, as predicted, at the 72-hour mark. My initial days in the capital had gone well. I had an amazing room at St. James Court, a beautiful hotel located so close to Buckingham Palace that I could claim the Queen of England was my neighbour for two weeks - literally. I had experienced great food and drink. I had only once narrowly escaped death or dismemberment when I failed to look the correct way when crossing a street. All things considered, that was pretty good. I was learning the rhythm of the city fast.
Or so I thought.
The sidewalk was a different story.
I spent the majority of day three at the Tower of London, a truly fascinating (albeit macabre) attraction wherein one gets to learn about King Henry VIII's God-complex and see the Crown Jewels up close and personal. Returning to my hotel, tired and with achy muscles, I took a slow, meandering walk back along Southbank while admiring the Thames and the reflection of the iconic architecture lining its banks. As I strolled, I noticed a group of five people walking towards me side-by-side. There wasn't room for all of us on the promenade, but I made my way to the far left hoping one of the group would do the same. Nope. We came closer. Nope. A collision was imminent.
"Fuck this", I thought and braced for the person on the end to bump into me.
She did. Hard.
I continued walking, keeping any ill-thoughts of the unmannerly individual to myself, when I heard them yell at me from behind:
I refused to look back and give them the satisfaction of acknowledgement. This minor incident though was all I needed to change my thinking from that of tourist to "I belong".
This is the big city. This is London. You fight for a seat at the table here.