Breaking in Doc Martens in London

After weeks in Italy circumnavigating my navel, imagining London – a crazy town I loved at first sight during my inaugural visit last year – being inside of a new life is both enchanting and wickedly paced. That is to say, the moment you imagine having a grasp on something, the nature of the moment seems to slew – perhaps I’m speaking only for myself, but new-adulthood all in all, hadn’t felt too adult – until now.

At 27 I didn’t think I would know everything, but in my teens, I looked towards my late 20s as a right of grown-up passage – envisioning myself in a new home somewhere, in love (of course) perhaps adorned with a child, and of course – at the very least – a car in the drive! Funnily enough, my boy(girl) racer days are evenly behind me, and thanks to the privilege of uncles with a penchant for knowing cars like rice knows white – I’ve never been able to say with total conviction “I just want a nice Mercedes” like so many travelers on the same path to god knows where (out of our 20s!)

So here I am in a backyard garden in Brixton, writing and breaking in a pair of brand new Doc Martens, thanks to an angelic host – who hoisted them up from under her computer desk and said “would you like these? beware – you have to break them in!” It seems fitting to have in physical form, a projection of my right-now life: ready made, capable, out of the box and into streets that stink of pubs and floral passing girls. The last time I broke in a pair I was just a girl. They were shiny black ideas of cool, a gift my mother promised me would last several winters, and she was right.

On the plane to London I patted my back, having already applied for more jobs in a few weeks, than I had in my whole professional life back home – where work streamed in through networks that acknowledged my promise and chose to invest in me, in the hope that I would use my powers for good. Sitting by a burgeoning pear tree, and wild life (urban) that sounds so foreign: the way birds talk from their bellies, the way ants crawl in diagonal jolts – I’d like to think I have been responsible with my gifts. Yet still, it’s funny to find myself just like them, a twitching glint of life full of ideas, stalking the same dark pavements intent on surviving the city, and hopefully myself – by the time these boots don’t squeak, maybe by then I’ll have settled too.

In two short weeks I’ve been lost many times, a guy called me a nigger and I laughed (with sincerity) feeling sorry for him and outside of myself – “is this really happening?” I wondered. A man dedicated a song for me, he asked for my name on stage, but it wasn’t a ballad or a love song – it was about a girl who was a jealous bitch. I walked too far in new heels and a taxi stopped to rescue me, he had daughters the same age, he didn’t charge a fare. A girl from Czech Republic told me her life story, in ten short minutes that felt like days. She had wet eyes and a chest full of dreams.

To the homeless man who begged to me off his apple mac via auto-tone, to the Nigerian rapper who rhymed how my ass was “dangerous fire”, to the man who read my palm and fell back disappointed “oh, I thought you were a crazy artist, but girl – you’re as rational as an accountant and I’m nowhere on your hand” to the designer, the chef, the print maker, the resource consent manager, the Spanish twins who said my English was so perfect considering I was from ‘savage islands’ – we are all right and wrong, about ourselves and each other – we are all new souls in new shoes trying to break into London.


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