This weekend we went down to London, to visit family and to catch up with friends. Driving down on the motorway we were held up by the emergency services who stopped the traffic to allow the air ambulance to land. It was a sobering 20 minutes watching people battling to help save the live of strangers. Once it was over we all started up the cars, lorries and vans again and got on our way. I felt very reflective and we started talking about timing, about places and about feelings. How decisions made, even very simply can have a knock on effect with lasting consequences. If we hadn’t taken a wrong turn we might have been on the motorway earlier, it may have been us in the accident, how five minutes before we would have driven by and an hour later would never have known about it at all. Life is full of actions and events, and the timing of them is something we don’t control, and yet can change everything.
Soon we were off the motorway and driving through North London, through all the places my hubby grew up in. We were moving slowly as it was Saturday afternoon in the Capital, and he was telling me tales of the streets as we passed through. Of cars he owned and jobs he had, of friends and adventures and of home. He was painting a picture for me of the teenager and the man he was, before our sliding doors connected.
One street we went down was just around the corner to his Dad’s house, we have a photograph taken outside there. A tall man, smiling for the camera, a moment in time captured forever. I didn’t get to meet his Dad, but felt a connection through the tales being told and being on the streets where he had walked. I have a great deal of respect for those people who were brave enough to move continents in search of a better life, and wonder how those streets seemed to them on arrival from the sunshine. They made a life, they had their babies and in turn their grandchildren, so far from their beginings, in a city which became home. Today, in the same streets I see dozens people of all nationalities rushing about, holding hands, shopping, scolding children, laughing and living. Each will have their story and the sliding doors that brought them to where they are today.
Later, we passed the bus garage hubby worked out of when we met, and as we traveled the streets we saw numerous buses that once he might have been driving. Although we have done this trip before, it was lovely to listen to all his memories of the place he called home. We also laughed about shared memories of my first visit to Hackney and the dreadful pub, just along from the famous Hackney Empire where we happened to find ourselves one lunch time.
To me London used to be a place of glamour, Buckingham Palace, the shops on Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and the Houses of Parliament. I knew nothing of the dozens of villages and small towns, all with their Town Halls, their High Streets and their own personalities. I am so happy I now know a little of the real Capital City, and can see it through the eyes of someone for whom it is home.
I was once again thinking again about timing, and how sliding doors effect everything that we know. His home town may not have been London, it could have been thousands of miles away if his parents hadn’t responded to a call to come to Britain. We may never have met if a set of circumstances hadn’t put us in the same place on the same day. How much is chance and how much destiny? Do we send out signals to the universe and influence our futures or is it just pure chance?
‘Home is where the heart is’, that is what my dear old Auntie says. I think this is largely true. I think we carry an imprint in our hearts of the places we belong to. For some it is the hills or valleys, for others a village or a city, even a river or seaside. The place we learned to be us, and the place we had our first relationships, with parents, brothers, sisters and extended family. If we are lucky we carry those imprints with us wherever we live and in turn, connecting with the sliding doors of chance, we make lives that are worth living and carry with us our home in our hearts.