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European cities

A Poem and its Background

by Andrea Siegel           

I have not left West-London for over a year. I lived in Ealing until May, 2020 then moved to Kingston. 

For few months, five times a week, I took a 20-min long bus journey to Richmond until my workplace was still open. Since mid-November, 2020, I have been furloughed and remained in Kingston; in fact, I mostly stayed at home, in the house that is in an area called Norbiton. I only went out to walk my dog, twice a day and to buy groceries or medication two times per week. Whenever I could find slots, I placed my food orders online.

 

E-mails, work-calls, texts, deliveries, trips to the supermarket, and very few live conversations with my house-mates have been the only reminders of social contact during the last 12 months.

 

To bear the lack of communication and human touch has been especially hard but it also presented me with an opportunity to reflect, notice more, find inspiration, create space and come up with ideas.

 

I started to write again and made it part of my daily routine to work on creative projects and find collaborators.

One of them was a young photographer, who had visited Budapest in the past and the photos he had taken there made me realise how much I still love the city where I had lived for 8 years.

 

I also watched many non-Anglo-Saxon movies on MUBI: French, German, Italian and Hungarian, mostly.

Seeing European cities on screen with that familiar structure of the streets; the architecture that has always astonished and inspired me, evoked feelings of home-sickness and a longing for my kind of people. Having been an expat in London for nearly 10 years, I was missing the culture, the conversations with people whom I had grown up with or spent most of my time at university, in Budapest. I also remembered, how much I felt at home immediately when I travelled to Vienna, Berlin or Porto.

 

London is fantastic and full of inspiration and opportunities. It is also an environment where it is hard to see the woods from the tree. Yet, I am still here and will remain until I am happy.

 

The following poem is the essence of my European heritage, highlighting the resilience and other strengths and talents of myself and my people. Inspired by history, architecture, films, music and mindfulness.

 

An Immigrant’s Pride

 

I am not from here

I say what I mean.

European cities,

And women

Are real beauties.

 

Ruined by bombs,

Hurt and robbed,

Still wonderful and strong.

 

Violin is the sound

That I hear all the time

When thinking about

How far I’ve come.

 

Despite the fear, the shame,

My mind is clear

And I healed my heart.

Hurt and robbed,

Still wonderful and strong.

 

Photos by ©andisie