There is usually a moment when living in a new country you stop feeling like a visitor and realize I LIVE HERE! This moment was more of a lighting strike moment for me. It could be because I live somewhere as well-known as London, and after years of seeing flashes the city on TV, in the news, and in movies, it can seem a bit familiar. While on the other hand I still had to learn how the pieces of familiar bits fit in the layout of the whole and amongst the unfamiliar bits.
For me the I LIVE HERE moment happened after 8 months of being in London, during the Christmas party season. It had been an evening out on the town for a Christmas party of one of the shows I work on. This party was at a bar in the Farringdon area of London, an area I knew well by day because I temped in the area my first 3 months in London, but I had never been out after dark in that part of town. When the bar shut plans were made as to where to go next, cabs were hailed, and off we went.
The route from east to west lead us along the Thames, past the London Eye, and then there in the distance, lit up brightly as ever, was Big Ben. Such a familiar site, and here I was part of a Christmas party, whizzing past it at 1:30am. As you do! It was in that moment seeing one of the most iconic images of London from the back of a cab late at night I thought, I LIVE HERE! Those in the cab not really noticing where we were, being all part of the norm for them, and now it was for me too. There was a thrill in the realization and shivers ran up my arms.
There are more everyday reminders that you are a resident of this new place now called home, like when being asked for directions (and being able to give them confidently), or when you are on the tube on the way to/from work and you see tourists eagerly checking the tube map above the door at each stop (the one you don’t even glance at any more). There even less obvious things that put together give the I LIVE HERE feeling. Having a ‘local’ to all your own, a favourite spot in your nearest park, knowing where to go to get a great curry, and just feeling like you are in rhythm with life in your new home country.
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