Thursday, March 08, 2007

My big picture

As much as I try to keep my eyes open and really see what's around me here, I've lived in Northwest London long enough now that some of the things that wowed me at first are simply starting to look familiar. Yes, it's a beautiful area. Yes, there are many things about the architecture and the signage and the neighborhood itself that are quaintly and uniquely European. I love to admire and appreciate those sights. But I walk these streets pretty darn regularly, and it's hard to really see those things day after day after day. Over time, the sections of sidewalk where I have to maneuver the stroller carefully have become more notable to me than the stately Victorian houses or the cute little shops that line those sidewalks. Figuring out what to serve for dinner consumes enough of my attention that the beautiful selection of fruits and vegetables at my neighborhood produce stand is a domestic challenge as much as it is a sight to behold. The streets are lovely, to be sure, but making sure my kids don't charge into them without holding my hand takes precedence over gazing at them most days.

There is one exception. One street which I walk down regularly never, ever fails to capture my attention. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of cobblestone streets lined with mews houses in London, and quite a few probably look just like this one. But this one is part of my daily routine, a path I tread regularly, and for whatever reason, it has captivated me. I have never once walked down this street without pausing to admire it, never been able to make it to the next intersection without pinching myself in disbelief that I live here. This street is my perfect mental image of picture postcard Europe. Had I walked down it once on a vacation, I know that I would have loved the view and I might even have taken a photograph for the album. "Remember that pretty cobblestone street we saw in London?" But this isn't a one-shot sight for me. I've had the pleasure of walking down that road again and again, day after day after week after month. And somewhere along the way, stopping to admire the sweeping view, the tiny houses, and the picturesque doorways has become my reminder to savor this experience, the big picture that puts my trivial daily complaints and concerns into perspective.

Our flat has become home by now, our surroundings familiar. I've started to say things like "would you prefer to go to Barcelona or Amsterdam next month" without laughing out loud at the sheer audacity of the fact that such options are even available to us. People aren't even asking me how we're getting on here any more; they just seem to presume that we've settled in, and quite frankly, they're right. I consider myself American and I look forward to living there again soon, but 6 months into our expat experience, I'm beginning to make a home for myself here in London even if it will never be Home with a capital H. Our day-to-day lives don't seen so exciting or adventurous or exotic any more; for now, this is just life, with all the mundane good and bad that regular life entails. Good, healthy changes, all of them. But that one street? It still gets me every time. And I hope that's one thing that never changes for me here.


Blogger geo said...

This is such a wonderful post. I've enjoyed reading your adventures and always wondered when you were going to start feeling at "home." Take pleasure of every minute of it!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Glad to hear that you are starting to feel more at "home", but also still taking the time to appreciate the experience :)

And that street does look amazing. Thanks for sharing it.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Deana said...

That street does look like a post-card! Enjoying reading your experiences there. I found your blog through the expat ring.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

What a beautiful street. Thanks for sharing.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

Mmmmm, what a peaceful street. Thanks for posting these photos :)

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Crab said...

Ooo! What's the name of that street? I'll have to check it out!

12:36 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

:::sigh::: Dreamy. I want to come see you. And to think we were thisclose to coming to the UK next month. :P

I can't believe it has been almost six months already and I'm glad it's becoming more like "home".

4:10 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Having only recently come across your blog I have read it from the begining, and it's lovely to read that you now feel settled here.

Love the photographs.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Fiona said...

This is kind of what you hope, dream and expect might somehow happen if you do the expat thing. It is so nice to vicariously enjoy it and watch it happen for someone else. A great post!

12:19 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

That is really stunning! I'm so jealous that you get to see that every single day.

Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing them!

3:46 PM  
Blogger slboval said...

Now that I'm finally here, to read your post, really hits "home" for me. Continue to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells... can't wait to join the journey with you!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This post is so cozy - it made me smile.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Nice street. I'll have to walk down it some day. : )

4:21 PM  
Blogger elena jane said...

a very pretty street, it's good to have something nearby that makes you feel good. :)

5:02 PM  
Blogger pinksundrops said...

Oh my gosh I just discovered your blog through your delurking comment at Amanda's and can I just say I want to be you?! Moving from boring suburban housewife to chic London - even with the two small kids!!

Seriously I'm so excited to have found your blog because that *is* a dream of mine. The small kids and all.

Gorgeous pictures of your favorite street!! It is strangely easy to get used to beauty but don't you just pinch yourself that you're getting used to THAT beauty?! Amazing.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Alabamabrands said...

SO pretty!

2:47 AM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

My husband and I are visiting London (his first time, my second) in May & one thing he has mentioned several times is walking down a beautiful cobblestone street. Your blog & pictures of this street have totally caputred my attention & I would LOVE to know where it is located. Could you email me with some slight directions in hopes that we stumble upon

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelly, I would consider heading to Portobello Road in Notting Hill

12:10 AM  

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