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The final verdict on London? Is there one?
I suppose the final verdict is that it’s not New York but it is yet another major metropolitan area. It sounds odd, but despite everything I feel as though I’m leaving London without having formed much of an impression of anything. Perhaps it’s already far too commodified for that, more a cultural reference and semiotic geography than a real one where I feel as though I am right now and will “have been.”
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Case in point: Tower Bridge. Standing there this morning, the sensation was one of a total lack of particularity, oddly enough. We walked halfway across, took a couple of snapshots, then headed straight for a pub for a traditional English breakfast.
Tonight we had considered Brick Lane but ended up with kebab from right around Bethnal Green station instead, and that was that.
It will be good to get back.
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I tend not to talk about family directly or to post pictures of family directly on my blogs or online spaces, but here I’ll take a moment to say that it was tremendously good to see family.
The shrinking world is also a growing one; it is far easier for individuals to travel around the world than ever before, but as a result it is often far harder to spend everyday moments with one’s family than ever before. Somehow it’s very easy to move oneself about for school, work, or simple pesonal exploration, but much harder to arrange for and logistically carry out personal visits with those left behind.
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I am already dreading the amount of damage control and catch-up that I will have to do in the two days after returning before the work week starts again. There will be rather a lot of both.
Nonetheless, this trip has been tremendously important to my own personal development in that it has waken me up. New York is a fabulous place, alive in many ways that London isn’t, with millions of stories and opportunities and a very unique energy unmatched by anyplace I’ve been…but it’s not where I want to spend my entire life or have my child spend her schooling years.
It is time to push ahead and finish the Ph.D. as quickly as possible, before New York becomes (for us) a decade-destroying rut. No, it’s not about any thoughts of living in London; in fact, staying here has shown me that I likely don’t want to live here. Being here, however, has shaken me out of the kind of emotional and cognitive cocoon that one gets into and that can unexpectedly last a lifetime. I don’t want to wake up one morning and realize that I’m a retired person that lived his entire life on autopilot before coming to far afield of my goals and/or destinations.
It is time to begin a push for a change of scenery. It will take a year or two, but there is a world outside of New York and a world outside of the New School and New York University, etc., and I can see now that I had recently started to forget this—a dangerous state of affairs.
Presence is like a drug—enjoy it long enough and it has you, without your realizing it, and much to your detriment.
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This trip has also taught us much about our daughter. Specifically, about how tremendously patient, sunny, and independent she is, and about how much she enjoys learning about the world. I think I have begun, on this trip, to admire her already.