Monday, June 10, 2013

A Lesson From Londoners About Love

Since coming to London, I've learned so much about British culture and behavior. Mainly by making mistakes. In fact I've violated #1,2,3,4,6 and 7. But hey! At least I have great style that is according to myself, credibility check, anyone?


1) Don't talk on the Tube
2) Don't eat on the Tube
3) Always stand to the right on escalators on the Tube
my obsession with the tube continues
4) On a daily basis one should dress a step above casual
5) Whether you are a man or woman, great style is valued and appreciated
6) Be knowledgeable about current events
7) Showing love is not a big deal here

And right now, I want to talk about the last.

Love here is celebrated daily. I witness it constantly. In parks, on the street, on the Tube, in restaurants, in grocery stores, etc. People love to love each other in London. Romantic love is extremely visible, yes, but it's also common to see people holding hands or platonically kissing their friends and family members. Call me a hippie, but I think it's sort of beautiful.

In my American life, witnessing other people's affection is rare, very rare. And typically if I do, I am put off by it. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought public displays of affection were annoying and I had no interest in witnessing or partaking in them. I see pda in America as a ploy for attention or social validation, and in some ways I think it still is. If people are really in love then why must they showcase it blah blah blah...

But then I came to London and realized how graceful public affection can be.

In London being publicly in love has nothing to do with a facebook status or photo on instagram. Here it's the opposite: not caring at all what the world thinks because it's not about them, it's about being happy. In my experience, pda in London (and likely more of Europe) is not for show, it's just real. And because of that it is remarkable to witness. To see two people no matter their relationship genuinely wanting to be near each other and touch each other, not noticing or caring about the presence of other people is inspiring. It reminds me that there is a place in the world where a kiss is still, purely, only for the people directly involved in it.  And lucky for me, I'm in that place right now.

So I suppose what makes the difference in how I see pda is the motivation behind it. Is it for someone else or is it for no one except yourself and whoever you're with? I know that I can't judge this on a case by case basis, and I don't intend to. Instead I will try to change how much I judge those six middle school girls walking arm in arm through the mall laughing too loudly, or the mom that kisses her son on the lips, or the couple that insists that piggy back rides are still a valid form of transportation.

I guess what Londoners have reminded me about love is that it's the most beautiful escape. Seeing a couple kiss five feet away from me knowing it has nothing to do with me, with war, with judgment, with social validation, knowing it has nothing to do with anything but love, well that may just be the most hopeful display I have witnessed. And so now I welcome it.

After proofreading this I realized that I probably am a hippie, but maybe that's better than being my jaded american self. Cheers.

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