You’ve been my bff for the past week. Can you just bugger off now?!
But jetlag is the payoff for the privilege of flying round the world.
And I spent the last week in London, England.
Whirlwind of a trip.
A lot happened.
I also realised that I didn’t take a lot of photos.
I love London.
I love the hustle and bustle.
I love the second hand smoke.
I love the history, the museums, the mash up of cultures.
I love the multitude of faces and accents and styles and the grey and the sunshine and the rain, and the sunsets of Autumn evenings.
I love it all.
And despite all this, I felt something else. That had way more meaning for me.
The feeling of belonging. Of seeing something that is familiar. And similar.
Observing total strangers, of whom you know nothing about, but yet you have something in common with.
And London does this for me. Like no other city on this planet does.
It’s seeing other mixed race people.
Babies; bundles of brown in buggies.
Primary school kids; grey school trousers, white shirt (untucked at the back), navy v neck wool jumper and sensible black regulation lace ups. Everything slightly too large due to parents logic, of ‘They’ll grow into them.’ Eager, curious, free.
Young adults; voluminous natural hair, excitedly chatting and laughing with their mates (when they’re not intently focused on their mini computers).
Adults; grown into their features in the most beautiful and unique way, where you can see a myriad of experiences.
Older folks; who catch your eye, give you a quick, slow smile which, in that instant you know you share something special.
It is this feeling of an unspoken community. Of knowing.
That you occupy this space between black and white.
And, so I want to share a little of that. So you’ll get to know.
Just a smidge.
Or maybe you can identify with this. Or have experienced this.
I was spoilt to grow up in the country that I call home.
New Zealand. Aotearoa.
Where we have such a diverse mix of people.
I am also very spoilt to have lived in, and travelled to multiple countries and experienced different cultures.
As a mixed race person, I have easily fitted in visually, to a lot of countries.
I remember my first afternoon in Paris as I was walking along the uneven cobbled footpath in the search of that bakery scent that lingers aromatically in the air, (lacteeze pills in my pocket), and a middle aged Parisian woman yelled at me from her car window.
Only knowing the basics of basic French, I recognised that she was asking for directions, but specifics were pretty fuzzy. In my need to be helpful, (and delight at being mistaken for a local!), I yelled back to her in my Kiwi accent,
‘I’m sorry, I only speak English!’
The look of annoyance on her face was priceless. I could tell she was cursing at me as she lowered her head back into the car and drove off, amidst blaring horns and yelling from other frustrated drivers who were caught up in traffic behind her due to the fact that she had stopped at a green light to ask for directions.
Or that time when I was in a small Moroccan village and a local woman started speaking to me in a mix of Arabic and French. Her tanned and weather beaten face, beautiful and welcoming under a white head scarf (tied in a way I have tried to replicate many times since and have failed miserably). And the look of surprise and confusion on her face, when I attempted to reply in my unfamiliar accent and as my friend had to act as a translator for us, with a bemused look on his face.
But it is London that I felt a sense of belonging. Being a part of a community. This unspoken community.
There is beauty and pride and calm in knowing in this. And in experiencing this.
So to put up with a little jetlag for this feeling, anytime jetlag. Anytime.