I fell in love with my now husband on the doorstep of my flat one Sunday afternoon in Notting Hill.
We had spent the late summer day sunbathing in Hyde Park watching the ducks and talking about nothing in particular. He had an ease about him that fascinated me. He balanced my nervous, bouncy energy with a calm and confidence that made me feel anchored and looked after. In the chaos of a city so transient and foreign being with him felt like home. Before we said goodbye for the day he walked me home, grabbed my chin and gently kissed the corner of my mouth. I can still remember the prickle of his stubble on my cheek. It was the moment that did me in.
Memories of our early romance unfold like a map of London. We wandered for hours along the river Thames, explored galleries and art museums on the weekends, brunched in local neighborhood cafes and traversed the boroughs in packed tube cars on humid summer nights. On our first date at The Troubador in Earl’s Court we joked about quitting our jobs and traveling to Thailand. We browsed the Portobello Road antique market on Sundays and loitered in book stores when it was too cold to be walking outside.
Falling in love in London is no more poetic than falling in love in the middle of the prairies in Manitoba. Love, after all, is the great beautifier. Everything is shiny and new in the breathtaking heat of “falling”. But I do believe that the city of London made a big difference in how we came together and ultimately how we define our coupling. The city nurtured our shared curiosity for art, history and travel. It set a precedence in the way we explore the world and how we define time well spent. It is the reason we take long leisurely brunches and drink water from fancy cups and consider a day spent wandering as the most luxurious way to explore a place.
It’s amazing to recall now the tableaus of our narrative. Medieval backstreets, summer street festivals, candlelit cave bars. The beauty of our early memories make a difference somehow. They remind me everyday that the world has and can always be wide open to us if we choose for it to be. In the same way that the language in which you meet your significant other defines the default language by which you communicate, I believe that the city of your early romance defines the geography of your hopes, dreams and expectations. It’s the plane on which your first shared values take root and makes up the first pages of the scrapbook of your story. I’m grateful that ours is London.