Saturday, May 08, 2004

Racing through Commercial Road, I realized how happy I was to be back. How surprising, who would have thought. And Commercial Road, dirty, dire and dreary, of all places: with its Mecca Bingo on the right and McDonalds drive-thu on the left, that never-ending cycle to anywhere and from anywhere. But I was happy, blissfuly happy: I screamed and smiled and lauged and sung. London! Back in London! But why was I so happy? Was it the contrast between the ugly winter that still ruled here when I left, 6 weeks ago, and the spring – yes, a grey spring, drizzly spring, for sure, but the poplar trees are all covered with leaves, and there’s light until 9pm, and it’s not freezing, I can walk barefoot in my room – is it just that? Or is there something in London, about London, which I love?
I was talking about it with Jen just now – “it’s always like this” she said, “we all know what we hate about london, we know it so well, but when we love it, it’s so much more difficult to point to the things we like, to put your finger on it. But it’s there”.
I said I came to the conclusion it was me I liked in London: the London me. Yes, I said, it is a distracting, overwhelming place, but still; when I was in Jerusalem just now it was much more difficult to tell who I was, anymore, what do I believe in, what kind of life do I have. Jen agreed: it’s the same for her, she said, when she goes home to Sweden she’s much harder with herself, much more critical. Here we have it so easy: such freedom, released from any need to confront ourselves, we can do whatever we want, she said. And it’s dangerous, as well, it can be a real trap, this freedom.
She sighed: I’m so sorry to leave this place; I wish we could stay here for summer. I don’t care about Poplar [everyone has been slagging off the neighbourhood the last month], I love my room so much. Yes I love going into a new space and decorating it with myself, making it my own, but I’ve done it four times the last year, I’m tired.

Yesterday I was sitting with S + G in the communal, we were talking about skipping, about kissing, about sex: the usual, so unusualtalk, about kissing boys and girls. Whose best, and what is it about sex and relationships that we want. Ga told me about the house near the Elephant which they tried to open last week: we were on the roof, he said, everything so quiet, everything so slow, so rythmically slow: releasing the screws of the skylight, gently, in continious motion, but so very slowly. As if time stopped, we took the skylight out, then lowered D inside, inch by inch. The noise was deep, muted, as if some big fan started working, he said, it took me long seconds to realise what it was – D cried out – Alarm! And then suddenly it was all action, all quick, the speed of it, getting him out of there as soon as possible; movements and hands and shouts, getting away from there as soon as possible.
There’s something about opening houses which always makes me think of Time, I told him: how time can slow and quicken, stop and start; and how five minutes – in which you could be doing anything – can be so important for your next six months.
I hope it goes better the next time. That’s soon: we should be out of here by end of next week.