Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing. Then I find myself walking through a suburban leafy area of London – where it’s affordable to live at the moment – with the sun shining on my face, fingers weaved through Ali’s and everything seems well again.
Still beneath that is the fear of not getting a job or a work permit. It doesn’t matter if schools are enamored with my experience or qualifications, there has to be a job to begin with. The fear of never getting out of debt of being able to take steps forward because of it. Putting it on hold does not make it disappear, it only extends it. Is this fear, stress of the combination of both?
Life is easier here, certainly. And there are still Jewish people – I stare out the window at the star of David atop a Synagogue as I write – and Muslims. And everything in between and outside of the box that is religion. One may find it odd for me to state this, but it goes unnoticed to some, the diversity of an area, while to others, like myself, it stares back at me as I see some of what we have just left, but in a different environment and sans guns and sans war.
On Friday when we first arrived, we visited two very distinctly opposite areas. We arrived in Shepherd’s Bush, backpacks pushing us into the ground. On either side of us were markets with Middle Eastern food. Shops with Arabic and English printed on their awnings. There was even a Palestinian Falafel stand where Ali tried out his limited Palestinian Arabic to some success. Although it wasn’t an area I’d like to live in, a little too rough around the edges for me, it was certainly a place to visit or even shop for some good ole fashioned food goodies.
Two hours later, after a pita in the park, we were navigating our way to our first apartment viewing. We found ourselves getting off the tube at Golder’s Green. Cute shops lined the main street, beneath imaginably cute studio apartments above them. People basking in the sun outside little cafes. Hebrew signs. The Jewish News. Women in trendy wigs. Skull caps. Black top hats. Forelocks. Wait a minute. Where were we?
I felt like I was back in Jerusalem and we had passed from the East to the West via the Wall (the wall being the London Tube). It was such a strange feeling to be so far away from something and yet feel so close in a reality of a situation that exists everywhere, but in different ways. Diversity.
Yet here, these people live in the same city without the same tension. I spoke to a girl where we stayed for the weekend, in Shepherd’s Bush, and she said there is a certain competitiveness when the schools go up against each other in sports. I imagined it as if they were linked to their great Holy Lands where peace does not exist, even if those in it try to convince the rest of the world it is so.
I can’t list reasons why it appears that one area is rougher or cuter than the other. Both areas were visited briefly through a fish eye lens, our first day in a new city. But perhaps it would be worth thinking about or diving into. One place with a large Arab, migrant, South African population, remarkably cheaper rent and more urban, the other predominately Jewish with more money, a more leafy suburban area. What was unbelievable to us was that we found ourselves facing the two societies we had just left. In a totally new environment. Without the guns. The bombs. The war. The fear.
And here I am digressing. I suppose some things are always a part of our lives.