This morning as I talked to my husband about transitions being hard and writers needing space and children running wild in the summer and the need to find a rhythm to our days, he told me he was going to get tape to fix the blinds above our bed that breaks every day. Outside the office window a bird is tweeting without stop, only she sounds like a creaking doorway with no stop to it. Around us, the house is waking which normally means one girl calling out to us or to each other or thumping down the steps. I am surrounded in privileges that I don’t know how to use and often can’t even make sense of. These are supposed to be idyllic summer days. The summer days of my children’s youth, of my husband’s and mine before we grow older and most probably little more tired and world worn. And we are in London. My husband goes to speak to the girls, something about no screen time today is met with loud protests, the door to the girls’ room squeaks too, open and shut. I can’t remember what it is I was saying before my husband left to get the tape to repair the blinds.
How long are you here for? they ask me and it gives me pleasure to be able to say confidently, we are here to stay. Back home in America, I heard of the rally cries to Send her back, but what do I say? There is no back for anyone, unless what you really want to say is You of brown/black and other non-white skin go somewhere else. Anywhere but here. The U.K grapples with their own separate voices and sometimes cab drivers talk to me of Brexit with regret or passion or intrigue. On the walk from Wimbledon station to the Wimbledon tennis grounds, a bearded man in grey clothes handed out cold bottles of water in the name of friendship from Muslims in London. There was a sign with something of that order hanging on the fence behind him. I had smiled at him and he bearded and toothy smiled back widely as I took the water gratefully. The cab driver yesterday, a white balding Britisher with an accent I scrambled to keep up with, told me that his mother was an immigrant. I listened to him explain British politics keenly trying to understand the nuances of what he was saying and what he left unsaid. As I stepped off his cab, I wondered at what new and old experiences of immigration awaited me in this new city.
There is no order to the things we have done, no method in the madness, no timeline of events. Here in London to study, the family whirls around itself, planets and moons unto themselves. On the roads of London, we have yet to find a direction. These first days have been spent finding a home and finding schools, seeking a rhythm to the days and nights, walking in circles. We find ourselves in the same places or we find new ones but nothing is what it was a few minutes ago and we keep moving on. Sometimes the children complaining of the distances I make them walk, especially when we lose our way, distracts me from the spaces and the views. A lady in a coffee shop gave me her number and welcomed us to London. Her exact words to me as she wrote her name and number on a pink slip of paper, “If you need a friend, here is my number.” I don’t think anyone has ever said those words to me.