I have been struck with a sudden fit of nostalgia for London. I miss London everyday, but the memory of the experience of living there has been fairly faded in the three and a half years I’ve been back in the States. But lately small memories have been flaring with sharp clarity in my mind: the way the city constantly smelled of damp and wet and stone even on a clear day, the feel of the wrought-iron fences lining Russell Square, how I would wander by the fountains playing and walk past Senate Library and around the British Museum on a long, meandering walk back from class to my flat back in Clerkenwell. The taste of Marlboro Reds and the warmth of the lights under my hand as Sofa and I talked long into the night sitting in the niche behind The Guardian building. How Tesco and Sainsbury smelled. The sound of tuna cans clinking against my leg in their plastic grocery bag as I walked over the cobblestones outside Exmouth Arms. The unexpected jolts of bright red and green and blue and yellow and saturation in a City that I always think of as perpetually grey. How I never felt as though I knew her completely, the city, the way I know New York now, the way I knew Los Angeles then. I think I miss the feeling of being lost, of being new, of not knowing and finding my way.
I suppose it makes sense as I’m coming upon my quarterly “Why aren’t the Libertines still together as a band?” hissy fit. It’s like clockwork, really. I listened to them obsessively in the summer before I went to
stalk Carl Barât study abroad and they played on my iPod (known as Gerty MacDowell then–I have since learned not to name a piece of technology after a 16-year-old Irish schoolgirl with a limp as my iPod continually broke down) as I wandered up and down the streets of Camden Town and Whitechapel. The result of this hissy fit is me working furiously on the thinly-veiled screenplay biopic of the band (similar to Velvet Goldmine) called What Became of the Likely Lads? I actually really love this screenplay to death but it’s a side project on which I’m frittering away.
The other is that a new scene unexpectedly arose in ELIJAH’S CHARIOT during revisions in which my three protagonists are wandering around Bloomsbury and I remember with such sudden fierce detail the bookshops and teashops and pubs and cafes of the neighbourhood. ELIJAH’S CHARIOT takes place in London, of course, or my version of Londinium which is an amalgamation of the Edwardian London I read about in fiction and the London I knew when I lived there in the fall of 2005. The ache of missing that city is now acute and specific, rather than the dull ache it normally is.
Oh well, back to revisions. Although it isn’t helping my strange nostalgic mood any.