I’ve spent the last few days walking the same streets I groggily dragged through on my first day in London. Now, in addition to the grime and dirt and charming age of Notting Hill and its surroundings, imprinted in its intangible geography are my memories, particularly of those first few days.
I remember the aching, worrying feeling that caused a week-long loss of appetite upon my arrival, and the compounding fear that I’d caught a new British-made food-borne illness. After all, I do not lose my appetite. My self-control, maybe, my mind, definitely, but never my appetite.
I remember my dad emailing me to say that he and my mom had left me a confidence-boosting note in my suitcase, and the resulting desperate search through every crevice of my luggage with all the hysterical fervor of a girl who just needed some hope.
I remember the tears cooling painfully down my cheeks in the winter air as I ventured out of my lonely, tobacco-scented hotel room to secure a cellphone and some reassurance that I’d soon have contacts to add to it.
I remember watching snow flurries illuminated by street lamps through my window as I listened to the meteorologist on television apologize for his faulty predictions and analysts discuss how weather predictions could be made more accurately, a la America. (At this, I remember laughing.)
I most vividly remember moving into my Notting Hill house a few days later, carefully arranging my bookshelf with family photographs and scoping out the kitchen for the ultimate implements of happiness and acclimation: mixing bowls and baking dishes.
And tonight, in honor of those latter kitchen discoveries, I baked my last London dessert–a peach cobbler for my still-southern-at-heart landlady.
It’s her I will remember fondly as the person who transformed this experience from bittersweet to just-peachy.