I wrote this ages ago in London, but never got around to posting it. So here you go!
I've been spending my time walking around London. I pick a destination, and then a second, third, perhaps even fourth stop, and create a haphazard route that takes me from Highgate to Stoke Newington, to SoHo to Trafalgar Square. I take the tube, baby strapped on my front, pram loaded with shopping. I crowd onto a train, trying to make myself as small as possible. A woman offers me a seat, but I decline, knowing Lyra will wake and wail if we sit. We exit, someone lifts the corner of the pram, and we wind through the maze of tunnels that feel old and full of ghosts. Young men in suits see me sweating up the stairs and lift the pram out of my arms. We're out in the air again, it's colder than I thought, and the crowds envelop us and we become just like every other tourist on Oxford street.
I'm driven partly by necessity: Rolf needs new shoes, and they don't come in his size in China, and we need to stock up on medications. But also, by the urge to hunt and gather: children's clothing; an essential gold jacket; the sort of toothpaste I like; sumac and barberries; chia seeds; fever reducers and cough medicines; the perfect pens for writing in my bullet journal. I need to quest, and walk, and fill my baskets. I need to carry goods home to my family. I need productive work to show them after a long absence. Searching for sundries assorted and varied, beating my feet a daily 12 KM around London, I feel my body, my feet on the ground, my tight hamstrings, my breath quickening, the ache of a hill, the sun on my face, the chill of a breeze. I find new paths, cut familiar routes. I see buildings older than my country, holiding history and stories, and all the pain and joy that comes with being a human. I get perspective. I feel truth. I rub shoulders with strangers. I'm invisible in a mob of tourists on Oxford Street, but also connected, touching, part of the steady heartbeat of humanity.