‘Mind the Gap’
That familiar voice echoed back to me as I stood within the rickety carriage of the London Underground. It was taking me along the Northern Line from South London to my destination in North London.
I stared around at the tired people around me, their wild weekends slowly catching up on them as a delayed jet lag would. One snored near my shoulder, leaning against the glass panel, forgotten whiskers on his face from a half hearted attempted to make himself look presentable.
A woman applied make up on her face, scowling slightly as a carriage jolt smeared her direction in another way.
Many early twenty something ignored the little world in their carriage by either closing their eyes whilst listening to tinny music that blared from their ears. Or they either read a bohemian book, their eyes betraying their loss of comprehension.
No one looked at each other willingly. That was the unspoken rule between Londoners in this Monday morning. They would save their small talk chit chat when they arrived in the office that day.
But rules are meant to be broken.
I saw a red headed woman reading the Metro give a wink at the object of her affections, a man in a grey suit and sharp glasses who responded in turn with a grin and flirty eyes. I imagined that this was a long ‘would they, wouldn’t they’ romance that will ultimately win when he chases after her because she dropped her scarf.
Or perhaps when old friends reunite unexpectedly, their exclamations breaking the quietness of the Tube save for the rattling screaming outside open windows.
Or even maybe when laughter ring out because a man wearing a tutu climb on only to pirouette in the middle of his journey much to rapturous applause nearby.
But what about me?
Why am I here on the London Tube, when only days ago I was travelling through the National Parks in USA?
I look down on myself as I hold onto the rail as the carriage lurches once again to disappear into the dark labyrinth beneath London. Here I am, shaved, suited, booted and with a splash of aftershave. I’m carrying my small trusty rucksack, within my packed lunch and a notepad ready for the day ahead.
I stare at myself in my own reflection in the window and I see myself four years ago before I left to go around the world.
I’m going back into a job. But in London.
I remember two years ago, still new to the travel industry, working at a magazine company as an intern whilst exploring the best of London.
Here I am, again, in this capital of the United Kingdom. I’ve passed through it many times since, a Northerner passing through like a trawler ship into the night ocean. But now, I’ve become a Londoner holding a northern secret.
Soon, my stop arrives into the City of London. Climbing the escalators, I swipe my Oyster Card through only to walk outside, blinking into the sun and greeted with the glass skyscrapers thrusting into the clear blue sky.
Londoners swirl around me, in a hurry to get to their offices, dress shoes clacking against the pavement.
I join them.
This would be the start of my new chapter in my life.
Will you look after me in my 30 something life soon?