One of the things that I miss most from England is the fact that nobody talks to one another.
Maybe that’s counter-intuitive to anyone who’s ever met me (or read my blog, for that matter), but there are honestly times I don’t want to talk to other people. Even, crazy as it sounds, sometimes I don’t want to talk to other people when I’m in public. Maybe I’m by myself and I don’t want to talk to anyone, or I’m with a group of people I know, and I don’t want to talk to anyone other than those people.
I guess I should amend my first statement: one of the things I miss most from England is the fact that strangers don’t talk to one another.
You don’t have to worry about going out to a pub (which, come to mention, don’t really exist in the U.S.) and having some random dude come up to you and start chatting while you’re at a table with friends. The guy at the bus stop isn’t going to comment on how you look. Basically, people leave each other well enough alone.
This can almost be to a fault, sure. I’ve seen people watch unfortunate things happen to other people and not comment. I’ve had plenty of situations where the more-than-obligatory level of social interaction would have helped me, or made me feel safer. But I’ve also had plenty of times since getting back to the U.S. where the fact that strangers feel the need to talk to me has actually made me feel less safe.
One of the most difficult situations for me is bars. I’m beginning to think that I’m developing a sort of social anxiety (or maybe it’s just plainly obvious because I don’t have a large group of friends to hide among when I’m out in public), but I absolutely hate: A) being in a bar, B) being at the bar, C) walking by the bar when a group of men is standing outside, D) should I go on?
I have a feeling there’s some great sexist/feminist statement to make here, about my right to exist free of being commented on by other people (read: men) unless I explicitly request their opinion. And yes, I fucking hate how many men in Seattle think they have the right to tell me I look attractive without any provocation from me. It is my business how I look, and whatever state of being I happen to be in, I don’t want anyone to comment on how I look. (Never mind that it’s never actually men I want to be commenting on how I look, but that’s where the sexist/feminist lines get a little blurry.)
But the point is, I want to be able to go to the pub, have a few drinks with my friends (whom I am still trying to make), and not be bothered by anyone. Maybe I’m saying I want to go back in time…. that might be it too. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I just wish for the past, or that my present could be a continuation of that past.
Point is, in case you’ve missed it all along, I miss London. With this heartbeat, and this one too. In different ways each time, but always with the same basic message: there’s no place like home.