A warm evening and its smells
Tonight is an unusually warm evening in London. It's not hot or sweaty; rather, just the sort of temperature that when you go outside it feels slightly warmer than inside (I don't know why - we don't have air conditioning), and in the absence of any breeze it's as if the air joins seamlessly with your skin.
One of the things I appreciate about warm, modestly humid evenings like this is the way that things smell different. Most of the time we don't notice smells: our sense of smell is designed to equilibrate itself with the 'normal' smells of the environment, such that just important or unusual smells (such as those indicating food or danger) are noticed. But I find there's a different quality of smell on warm evenings.
There's something wonderful about warm evenings. Perhaps it's just nostalgia, but it brings back memories of wandering around the campsite in southern Spain at night from my childhood. Or the evenings spent in the balmy tropical conditions in Singapore. Or taking an evening stroll in Margaret River under the vividly starry southern sky. Or our honeymoon on the Greek island of Cephalonia, before anyone had heard of Captain Correlli. And many more. Maybe it's because we get so few of them here in the UK that they are valued so highly.
It makes me think of my own sense of 'rootedness'. I like where I live: London is a great place to be, and it's hard to leave once you are here. But I don't feel rooted here: I have no sense of identity tied in with the place where I live. I guess this is because London is such a cosmopolitan place. Perhaps if I was living somewhere smaller and less diverse, this would be different. But then I have only a passing sense of identification with the place where I was born, because I lived there just a short time and I speak with a different accent to the locals.
As someone who has been fortunate enough to travel widely, I have a reasonably broad perspective (you can't help but pick this up if you travel a lot), and then the need to identify with a particular patch of planet earth becomes less urgent, even though there's a small sense of loss that comes from not being 'rooted' in a geographic locale. But would it be better to have stayed just in one place? I can't say. It's too late for that, anyway.
Part of me feels like I would jump at the chance to leave London and live somewhere else for a while. Perhaps even another country? Decisions like this are almost too hard to make, especially when you have a family to consider. But I'm pretty tempted.