This is day nine in a new series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.
I’m not sure if I told you but we don’t have a car here in London. We walk or use public transportation and my feet are acquiring callouses in new places, making me think twice now when I wear sandals.
I do love walking everywhere but when we need to go out of the city, we rent a Zip Car that happens to be parked about five minutes from our house. As US citizens, we can’t get car insurance unless we own a car, which is too costly for us. And we can’t drive someone’s car because no insurance without a UK drivers license, which we can’t get until we’ve lived here for one year. Basically, we’re limited.
But surprisingly, the only thing I miss about a car is listening to the latest pop songs on the radio. However, I didn’t plan on needing a shoe budget. This sounds like an extravagant justification because I’m a woman and shoes. But truthfully, practicality and comfort are a high value when navigating an urban life.
Last week, when I attended the consecration of a new bishop at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I rode the underground in flats and carried pumps in my purse. Clergy wives congregated on the steps, changing out of practical into pretty before entering that grand place.
I’m in continual awe over the way women walk on cobblestones and ride bikes through traffic wearing spike heels around the city. This should be an official sport with awards for bravery.
Living in London is so different than living in the South. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to you but maybe not for the reasons you think.
In the places where we lived in the South, conformity was a higher value than being uniquely individual, especially when it comes to the way a woman dresses. Perhaps pressure to conform is more nuanced in London because of the shear amount of people.
Black is the obvious color of choice for coats and boots, no matter your socio-economic status. And the scarves – I thought they were a British fashion statement but mostly they are about warmth. It is highly likely that you’ll find a scarf and umbrella (brolly) in every woman’s purse throughout London.
I find women are more comfortable in their own skin because of the diversity of people living in London. Comparison isn’t as prevalent as it is in the US regarding body image. I would love some input from my expat friends about this to see if I’m just a newbie being a bit Pollyanna.
My closet holds about one fourth of the wardrobe I had before moving here and I am content. Small space living magnifies the ugly culture of excess we’ve bought into in the past.
Today instead of walking, I’m riding in a car with friends to the Cotswolds for a week long writing getaway to finish more of my book. Next week, I hope to post my first Periscope live video and show you around a bit. Follow me @SMillerRB.
What would you like to know next? Ask me some questions and I’ll try to respond to them next week.