Odd Jobs

At the junction of Steward St and Artillery Lane - Sandys Row SynagogueAnna Hartford at Threepenny Review:

I became utterly in thrall to London. I wanted nothing more than to think of myself as legitimate there. To be real. To be a “Londoner,” or at least to be able to say, “I live in London.” I kept dwelling on the vague temporal qualifications each of these identities required. How long till you’re living there, and not just visiting? Is it three months? Six? How long till you’re a “Londoner”? Is it five years? Seven? Or do you have to be from there? I attempted rampant assimilation. Having pointedly refused anything but instant coffee in all my days, I became a filter coffee convert, in the way of my new people. I felt an immense satisfaction and sense of belonging when I could publicly cling to a paper coffee cup.

After a few months, my best friend arrived from Johannesburg. The year before we had declared that we were going to do this together: Big Ben, Beatles, pounds, center-of-everything, discover-the-world. We found our own place: it had bay windows; or, more accurately, it was a bay window. The space probably began life as a reading nook or something, back when there was enough London to go around, but by the time we showed up it had been transformed into a stand-alone studio. Likely it’s been subdivided again since then. We practiced, in these first efforts at running our own home, forgoing every imaginable tenet of domestic hygiene, without incident.

We stayed in the same room, we read the same books out loud to each other, and a few weeks in we managed to find the same job.

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