Shockingly, September is almost over. Every time I leave work I watch the daylight gradually decrease little by little as the days get shorter. Seeing the early decline of natural light makes me want to stay out for as long as possible, to make the most of the day and use every opportunity I have to enjoy sunlight before the street lamps are switched on.
Today, after months of returning to work I sat on the benches outside Westfield, Stratford with a cup of hot chocolate, just like I used to during my hourly lockdown walks. I was instantly reminded of how deserted and quiet this place once was. As I looked around me, I watched people pass by in colourful attires. In comparison between then and now the seasons were on opposite ends of the scale, they were Fahrenheits apart. An array of vibrant tones filled the space. With dark coats hanging in the wardrobe, it seemed almost everyone here made an effort with their appearance. I applauded silently, some people looked great. London Fashion Week may be over, but London street fashion continued to turn heads, like me getting a few outfit tips.
I had to walk past a couple of benches to find a spot. The benches were no longer as vacant as they used to be. Each large enough seating area had a huddle. Conversations from all corners filled the air. There was some silent chatter, while others laughed together loudly. I enjoyed the atmosphere that was created. My favourite part of seeing the busy-ness was the two strangers behind me who were playing a friendly game of table tennis. Whoever thought of the idea of having a tennis table in the middle of a public seating area is a genius.
While I sat there being present in the moment, I looked back at the days of lockdown 3.0 and thought of the stress that had taken over my mind. Those memories didn’t feel like mine but of a stranger’s or from a fictional book I once read. The process of feeling like myself again had kept me so busy I didn’t stop to think of the strength it took to get me from where I was to where I am now. My mind just kept bustling through, tearing down the weeds and cobwebs. Bringing myself back to the present, self-love finally felt incredible.