First, I wrote to my friend, Rachel, who lives in North London. When she emailed that she's in Germany for work, I was so relieved. All my other friends from when I lived in London don't live there anymore. Lynn's in Carlise, Jack and Dan and their girls are in Devon. Chris and his family are in the Isle of Wight. Makes it a nightmare to try to visit them all, but now I'm so glad they're no where near Tooting SW17.
It's weird how distance and history can magnify a tragedy. When horrible things happen right in my city or state, it's easier to ignore, or at least feel jaded about it. But there's something about seeing London burning that brings me to tears. I follow the Google map, watch the cell phone footage, think and think and think, how did this happen to my London?
I know it's not true, that it's arrogance to say it, but I feel like I created London, at least my own London, when I lived there. It's probably more accurate to say that it created me. No other city (not even NYC) has messed with my DNA the way London has. I would go back, live there forever, in a heartbeat, if other things were not tying me to where I am. I dream about London, still, even though it's been nearly 12 years since I lived there.
So seeing kids rioting outside Clapham Junction, ripping TV's out of a Ladbrooks in Tooting, tossing burning molotov cocktails, breaks my heart. I wish I was there, weirdly, that I could help. On twitter, there's a boots-on-the-ground movement (#riotcleanup) to help neighborhoods clean up. I can only hope that the anger and spleen being vented on the city is countered by enough of the opposite - community, kindness and solidarity.
Watching this video of the #riotclean up that happened yesterday in Clapham brought on the waterworks AGAIN, but at least in a good way.