Recently, my two former roommates came to visit me in London. What it has indeed confirmed is that I'm an atrocious tour guide. Instead of pointing them to the V&A Baroque exhibit or the White Cube gallery, I insisted we go to Rough Trade (for the non-Londoners: Empire Records-esque hipster haven). I love Rough Trade. What attracts me about it most is the atmosphere, and I know that makes me a terrible person- shallow, even. But the music counts too. I fell in love with El Guincho there. Also, a few months ago they facilitated my re-acquaintance with older folk music after my electro-hiatus this summer (Friendly Fires put a definitive end to that). I have to admit I was too flustered on Sunday to concentrate on finding the Belle & Sebastian record I wanted to get for my sister, so I almost left empty-handed. What I did have patience for was coaxing my lady friends into the giant photo-booth in the store.
There's something romantic about capturing an image like this one. I can just imagine that years from now I'll look at it and I'll remember that rare sunny day on Brick Lane. How have they changed? I'm tempted to say, not at all. Of course that's not possible- if the science is right, our cells regenerate completely every seven years- making us entirely new people. I can't really speak to that. But it does owe something to my fascination with liminality. It wouldn't be possible without not only a physical but also mental renewal of sorts. As they embark on their travels through Europe, their detachment from who they once were will be profound, and indeed lead them to an entirely "new" set of world views. I also wonder how young people negotiate between deeply conflicting questions- the kind prompted by Dawkins- and the strings that tie us to our past convictions. Perhaps it's a realization that 'the plan' will have to be let go, once and for all. "I don't want to get married. I don't want to have children". Or perhaps it's something even more significant than that: "I'm not really in charge here- what now?" This unstructured rambling will be consolidated at a later date. For now, I just have to ask, what brought this on? I think it's the hope that my friends find a little bit more of the 'selves' they will one day become on their trip. And when they look at this picture years from now, they will think.... we were so different then, but yet the same.
And yes, people do find themselves. To believe you have the ability to create yourself is romantic, at best. Choice is, after all, limited.