At a recent meeting of our local Probus Club, I was intrigued to hear one of our members talk about her first tourist impressions of London. While her husband was studying at a business college, she was left to explore her fond Monopoly Board sites of London. Being left to her own devices, she found the process an empowering experience in a place she loved to explore, and it has endured with her ever since.
It brought to mind my first empowering experience of London, too, and It was just 50 years ago this November. It occurred suddenly as I was riding home in a London cab from Phyllis’ flat in Pimlico to my digs in Earl’s Court. We had been to a ball and it was sometime after midnight. I think it was our first night out together. As the cab weaved through London’s streets whose names were so familiar and yet so new to me, I felt a bit of a dandy in my dinner suit and leaning on my umbrella as if it were a cane (I didn’t wear a top hat!). Suddenly I felt that London belonged to me, or more accurately, I belonged to London.
Another ‘owning’ experience occurred to me in New York some forty years later when I left Phyllis and daughter Karen frantically shopping at Macey’s while I decided to take a leisurely walk back along 7th Avenue through the once thriving Garment District to our hotel near Times Square. Once again I suddenly felt this experience of belonging to the city. I think it resulted from the security of having loved-ones close by, but still having the freedom to explore such a world famous city on my own.