Riding The Bus

We've started to have some really nice spring days in London. On a recent Saturday I needed to get from Clapham Junction home to Streatham and decided to take the 319 bus Eastward. I sat on the top deck and looked out the window the whole time.

People are always shocked and excited by the sun in this city, and they crawl out of the woodwork, filling the streets and the parks. But I'm always struck by how the rest of the city looks shocked too -- the buildings and pavement can't seem to believe that they can see the bright blue sky above. The dirt shows a little more, but the red and rusty orange brick that comprises most of London has a more dramatic hue.

On that Saturday I was happy to look out the window and let the mix of sunshine and people enjoying it reflect back onto me. I was buzzed with the warmth of the day and the energy of the city.

But I didn't always feel this way about the sun in London.

When I first moved to England, the unpredictability of the weather and the way residents acted like it was the Saturnalia when the sun came out irritated me. I couldn't understand why a rise in the temperature of a few degrees pushed all the Friday night pub goers out onto the sidewalks. I was annoyed that going to lunch at someone's house on a chilly day in May meant eating outside -- if it wasn't raining. I was always cold and cross at constant discussions of the weather, in particular, the big question on everyone's lips: Will we have a summer in Britain this year?

Maybe I am mellowing. Maybe I am getting used to life here. Maybe I just now know how to dress for the weather (see When A Cardigan Is Not Enough).

No matter what it is, I am now caught up along with everyone else in the joy of the spring weather arriving on the days we are lucky enough to have some sun. I walk through our neighborhood and smile at the smell of the barbecues firing up at a moment's notice so friends can sit outside and enjoy the warmth and sun together. Even if it is April.

I will gladly sit in my friend's garden in the middle of July wrapped up in my lightweight coat with a scarf around my neck, sharing a bottle of wine. I welcome the stretching of the days at the moment and await the time in a month or two when we will have to try to go to sleep while it is still twilight outside.

When I first moved to this country I wanted adventure and excitement, but I guess on some level I also wanted everything to be absolutely the same. When it wasn't, I gnashed my teeth and struggled against it. But as I rode the 319 bus through South West London recently I realized that things had changed and now I know what I didn't know then -- you can't have it both ways. And it's the differences and the challenges in life that allow us to also experience the joy. And, of course, the sun.

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  1. Ah, one of my favourite London pastimes--riding the bus on the top deck! I never get bored with it.

    1. I knew you know what I was talking about :) Hope you are having a nice weekend (even though it is very grey). I am off soon to meet my parents for a British Museum walking tour!


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