Canary in the wharf mine
Sunday night, Heathrow arrivals. All grey carpet and glass and not a whisper in the air. Such calm and quietness for an airport – I never understood how that can be. I’m heading down the quiet aisles leading to the border and customs, with thoughts of the weekend at home still filling my mind. Everything has stayed the same there, but me. The immigration officer returns my passport and there it is, as inevitable as a Monday morning, that thin veil of sadness that tells I’m back, but I cannot tell exactly where. Back from home? Or back home?
Call it what you like, but surely you – like me – are back to the life you have chosen away from wherever you come from. The alarm is set and tomorrow morning that faithful guardian of the daily routine will push thousands of 20 or 30 something Italian wannabe bankers back into their dreamy bubbles. Flat sharing
; long commuting; free newspapers eagerly reminding them of mass redundancies and how they have been priced out from the housing market…
But all the hardship and adversity (yes, bankers go through them too) does not quite pinch these dreamy bubbles right away. All together they crawl up the castle of cards of the financial district. Mind the step: the career ladder there is narrow and fragile and it won’t take you all aboard up to the highest steps. A pervasive sense of highness and insecurity, more vertigo than homesick I would say. Where’s home in all this? Is it back to the comfort and reassurance of family or here in a city that doesn’t belong to anyone because it belongs to everyone, which eats you alive if you stand still but rewards you generously if you rise to the challenge? Here with a new urban family made of friends who often come and sometimes go; flat mates; colleagues; loves and lovers? Here in a city that like a racing horse can take you far and fast but is hard to control. Would you call it home if you kept being thrown to the ground and being hurt? Probably not, but possibly yes. To those still in doubt whether this ferociously beautiful place will ever be home, a warm welcome to the club.
Personally, I like to think it will eventually become home, because after all we need a place that feels ours. If for no other reason than the pleasure of leaving it at some point.