Apr 15, 2024

Thinking Fondly: An Unlikely Ode to London

After fleeing from Dublin to London in pursuit of freedom and self-discovery, a realisation dawns on Bridget McBruiser that running away doesn't solve problems, leading to a return home with newfound determination to face life's challenges head-on.

Bridget McBruiserContributing Writer
Photo by Bridget McBruiser for The University Times

You can always run away from your problems. It may be completely foolish, it may be reckless, perhaps selfish, or even perfectly morally wrong. But you can always run. There is no way to explain it exactly, no quaint phrase or appropriate adjective I could use to excuse myself. All I can say is that I had to escape. And so I did. It was actually comically easy. Despite what Dublin might have you think, we are in the age where in a matter of emails our lives can change and change again. 

And so I changed my life. I applied for the job on Monday. That Wednesday I had the interview and then somehow an offer. By the Friday it was fatally accepted, a flight was booked and a bag was packed. I spent my final week shamefully half-assing assignments, staying up to watch ‘Eras Tour’ livestreams and swearing to my grandparents that I would keep in touch. 

Come the following Saturday, I had to say the only goodbye that actually mattered. It was the only one I was really able to say; I made everyone else the pathetic, false promise that I would see them on Monday! But there was no hiding from him. There never was. I wish I could be trusted to recount the interaction, but I’m afraid the only things I can confidently recall are Italian pastries and silly comments about a possible live action adaptation of Tangled. He was gone and I got through my final shift at what would become my old job and I went to bed and I brushed my teeth and I boarded a plane. 


I arrived in London the day of King Charles’ coronation. The caricatures were true — there really were union jacks everywhere, a Pret A Manger on every corner and an oppressive humidity marking the start of summer in a major city. Oddly, I really didn’t mind the troubling iconography or apocalyptic weather. It was all just incredible to me. Immediately I was anonymous, utterly alone and, consequently, completely free. Once I could be anyone, it felt incredible to be the person that I was. For the first time ever, I could do anything. I was a weapon at work and was a fervent flâneur in my free time. 

Wilfully or not, I forgot practically everything about Dublin. It just didn’t cross my mind. There was no real proof that I existed before May 8th, nor were there any reminders that I would actually return; I carried on as if it didn’t and wasn’t. A new life was budding. I was infatuated with every new acquaintance, mesmerised by all the art at my fingertips and adoring of the spare Sundays on which I would slip off to the Heath for a swim. Sure, the odd text or tweet would try to interrupt my new reality, but not one notification succeeded. They were all too easy to ignore. I now had a life that was easy to love and, slowly, I started to fall in love with myself. I didn’t think that any phantom or secret history could distract me. 

But on another Tuesday spent brooding around the V&A I was reminded that it isn’t so simple. You can run but you can’t hide. I was gazing into the eyes of Michelangelo’s David when he called. Within forty eight hours he was there. As I tried to show him my new everythings I was overwhelmed by how shallow it all seemed. Once we were alone together under a red sky, as moths among the heath free to sing showtunes; I realised why so many swore that the English country side was so romantic. 

Whatever it is I have with him, however mad and extravagant and absurd, it is real. As we parted ways for the final time, he pulled my claddagh ring off my finger and in an instant I was reminded that my old life was my actual life. Suddenly, I was ready to face it. In emigrating, I didn’t escape anything, I was simply pretending to be someone else. I had cast myself as a poor player upon a stage, strutting and fretting and gooning and screaming, but it ultimately signified nothing. 

  ’ll always be grateful to have experienced the Barbenheimer hysteria, Speak Now’s second release and watching the Titanic submersible sink alongside an incredibly accepting, endlessly kind and obnoxiously courageous cast of characters. But It was time to pull the curtains on my petty play. 

I handed in my notice at the theatre and saw all the plays I would regret not seeing. I went on my sad lady pilgrimage. Retracing Patti’s steps from Haworth to Hebdenbridge, singing “it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home” to the skies and leaving a legami cat pen on Plath’s grave. When I returned to the city, I thanked the portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft for everything, and I swore to her that I would do something great. 

Since, all I have been trying to do is trying to figure out how. 

I returned and rebuilt my room. My beautiful little room. Where I get to the real work. I read and write and read and write. Lately, I can’t help but look around at the little life I have for myself here and wonder what could be sold, what should be packed, what should probably be destroyed. What I will have to do when it is once again time to run away… how exactly I will start all over again. I’m not scared of this inevitable demise. Like most strange adult-children in Dublin, I will be glad to finally flee my parents’ house for good. It is fun to consider the endless ways of starting another life. It is exciting to think that there is always someone else to fall in love with.

Everything is easier with that in mind. Now, as the summer is seemingly starting again, I can finally, comfortably say that I am staying right here. That doesn’t make moving on an easy thing to do. I still butcher most goodbyes and have rolls and rolls of film from last summer that I refuse to develop. I am probably still avoiding subconscious fears that there is no way to reprise that period of my life. But I have gained an unwavering faith in tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I will chase the albatross no matter where that leads me. 

It is not sad or pathetic or somehow cruel, but beautiful to admit that no matter what happens, there will never be a day where what I loved and lost doesn’t cross my mind. 

That no matter how the flowers and fruits of summer fade, there will never be a day when I don’t think of it all fondly.

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