Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January 16

Last Tuesday was my half-birthday. I don't really know why I'm so conscious of half-birthdays, except maybe because my parents were born on each others', and also, when you're a little kid and you're born in the summer and all your friends get to bring cupcakes to school on their birthdays but you're on vacation during yours, it was sometimes a big deal if your teacher let you bring cupcakes to school on your half-birthday instead.

I won't tell you what birthday last Tuesday was six months away from, but I will tell you it ends in a "5." And the first part is not "20."

On my half-birthday, I realised that it was ten years from the day that I moved to London. I could be a British citizen by now. I might finally have started to pick up an accent. I would not have forgotten all the charming slang I adopted. I would regularly interact with more than five people a week who have a largely different ethnic heritage to me. I might even be married to a Brit by now. (Or a Czech, or a Persian, or a Kenyan, or a Ghanaian, or a Turk.) Nah . . . probably not.

Sometimes I wish all those things were true, but there was this time in 2002 when it seemed like God was yanking me out of there by the hair, and I was kicking and screaming as usual, but I knew He was right. I still haven't figured out why, but I still feel He was right--and that for once in my life I actually heard Him properly. The last time I visited East London, instead of its feeling like home, the way it had the visit before that, it felt like a place I had never been before but knew exactly what to expect from. And I knew that that place was not where I was meant to be anymore, even though it had been.

But it really, really had been. I've done a lot of growing since I left London, but I still feel that London was where I really and first grew up. It was where I found my feet and where I learned to do things for myself and where I began to learn to love people. (I'm still learning that, I think.) I lived in my house with the yellow door, and I ate curry more than anything else, and I drank tea with refugees and walked around the sketchy parts of the city (i.e. my neighbourhood) ostensibly by myself and at midnight. I found out that I wasn't going to Hell (or even going to get drunk) if I drank wine within reason with the Eastern European au pairs. I found out that I wasn't going to go looney if I wept and prayed and worshipped with people who spoke in tongues. (And that I still belong to Jesus even though I don't speak in tongues.) I loved London and its people there.

I guess I still do.

4 comments:

Annelise said...

Just think, if you lived in London now, we could hop over on Ryanair and visit you for next to nothing!

marallyn ben moshe said...

shalom jenn...found you on john's blog...lovely to meet you and loved your post...good luck...will come back again soon...stay safe

GreekGeek said...

congrats on your half-15th birthday! You've done a lot of living in your short lifespan! And this was a beautiful post that I _really_ resonated with. Sometimes no matter how much I want to go back to a time that was Good, but I can't. And there's grief in that, but also a melancholy sort of joy in remembering what was, and gratitude that I did at least have those times, even if I can't ever get them back... I don't know, rambling, but resonating...

Jenn said...

Mom--yep. I should have added that . . .

Marallyn--welcome! And thanks for visiting!

Mariam--you're hilarious. And a sympathetic soul. I'm glad we're friends.

Anyone else whose name begins with "M" wanna weigh in?

There was an error in this gadget