26.05.2009 - 28.05.2009
I was once asked by the French-British border control what my reason for entering the UK was. I remember being so baffled that it took me a while to answer, and when I did, I blabbered, but I live here! My home is here; my job; my friends! They let me through- no one likes to contradict an obviously-crazy Finnish bird. And so, when they asked me the same thing at Heathrow, I was still baffled-if they didn't let me in, what would happen to all my shoes? Who would get custody? It's the same thing when people mark on my language skills- "you speak really good English." Oh really. Amazing what ten years in Britain can do- seems that sarcasm is contagious too.
On the flight, I'd asked for an upgrade to first class, not really thinking I'd get it, but anyway, it was worth a shot. I am, however, slightly embarrassed to admit that I did fake a certain "disability" in order to be upgraded. But it's not like they were full- I've shelled out large chunks of my minimum salary towards airfares, so it was about time I got something back. When I got escorted into the mysterious, private depths of the first class, I remained cool. even when people called me madam and handed me menus instead of just banging a plate of something gooey in front of me.
I get very excited about anything even slightly luxurious or expensive. I was always the daft kid who didn't know which fork to use when we went on a school trip and ate in a restaurant. But I maintained composure, even when I really wanted to whoop out loud when they gave me a toiletries kit with miniature eye creams and ear plugs which I could keep. I slept horizontally, in the darkened, quiet enclave of the plane, completely forgetting I was even on a flight. I felt tempted to whip out Fred to sit in the empty seat next to me, but I think that would have not been first class- cool. Have now decided to be famous so I can travel first class always.
London. Lots of white people at the airport, lots and lots of noise, rain and concrete. I felt a bit down, but it was possibly due to the rain and fog; people looked miserable- if you see two women walking together anywhere in Africa, chances are that at least one of them is smiling and laughing out loud; in the UK, they are probably telling each other off. It's not uncommon to see someone wear red, green and orange all in a happy mix; here, we all have grey coats and black umbrellas. All this will take a bit of getting used to.
But I love London. I have no idea why- but then again, why do people love anything or anyone? They just do. A few years ago, I was tube-surfing my way to work, standing in the middle of a full carriage in high heels, whilst using one hand to text and another one to apply lip gloss. I remember, because an old man chatted to me for a bit, about nothing really, and when he got off, he told me, London is full of bubbly girls like you, but somehow, you can always spot the ones who've been born and bred here. I thought that was an incredible compliment- he thought that I was a real Londoner.
And so, after a few days of being back, it actually feels ok. Nothing really changes; I came and go every few years, but everything here, although in constant movement, actually stays the same. There is something very comforting in that.