I expected to fall in love with you and your double-decked buses brightening up every street. I expected to stop and eavesdrop on conversations just to hear proper British accents dressing up even McDonald's orders. I expected to master the Tube and envy Oyster cards. I expected to feel closer to Hogwarts than I ever had.
But your true beauty, London, didn't come from these things. It came from the people, friendly but not trying to talk to you at every corner, and the history. In a way, America's history is connected to that of England. A book my Colonial Mysteries class read talks about how Roanoke is really the start of the United States' history. But does it really begin there? Does history ever really "start," or has it been here all along?
I felt comfortable walking down Kensington High Street alone, but still very American in my short black coat and Vera Bradley purse. The minute I opened my mouth people would know, if not my nationality, my continent. There is a culture here, one that history did not remain in the States 240 years ago. And I feel as if we're missing out on it.
You are one of the safest cities in the world. And yes, that requires cameras staring me down as I descended to the Tube platform. But it also means I let my purse hang free, I didn't hesitate to ask strangers for help. I felt comfortable not talking for once inside each. Something America rarely lets us do.
London, I never wanted to let go of you. I wanted to blend into the crowds on Oxford Street and live near Soho. I wanted to eat non-pub food and make jokes about Nando's. I wanted to grow up in a crisp school uniform with a matching coat and hat. I wanted to sit in your bookstores and soak in the art on the cover of each book, something drastically missing from the States' shelves.
So to the homeless man we passed everyday on the street, to the bartender who apologized for carding me, to the countless Underground workers who let me through once my card stopped working, and to the Beefeater who gave us the best tour of a historical site I've ever had: you are my London. And London, you are my city.
And I can't wait to return.