The first time I went to London, I fell in love with the city.
The second time I went to London, I fell in love with the city’s history.
The third time I went to London, I decided I wanted to live there.
And so the plan goes.
When I think of London, my favorite city in the world, one sight comes to mind: standing beneath the great clock tower,
known to many as Big Ben, and looking up at it in all of its beauty.
The white clock face has black Roman numerals sticking out like Braille, plated in a square of gold, standing atop
the tall rectangular tower.
The clock tower does not stand alone; it is kept company by the Houses of Parliament also known as the Palace of Westminster.
The building has become the symbol of the city, representing London to the world.
The tower, browned by age, is old and rustic against the backdrop of a modern-day city.
I close my eyes and the flowing gowns of long-forgotten queens flutter by, Elizabeth Tudor herself standing in a golden hall.
Yet while the gothic building appears older than Elizabeth herself, she never got to see the clock tower; it was built long after
her death, when her name had been resigned to history books, and her reign had become just a memory.
Across the black skyline, several flagpoles and tiny towers pop out from the top of the medieval castle and I have to blink
to rid my eyes of the image of a knight riding across the courtyard.
I feel like I have gone back hundreds of years.
And when I turn around I come back to reality.
In 1941, during the Second World War, a bomb destroyed the Commons chamber, one part of the Palace of Westminster.
Yet the clock tower remained, the hands continuing to tick through the horrors of a blood-soaked country.
It was what the flag was to America in the War of 1812, still standing, giving hope of better days to come.
Big Ben provides consistency to the city, uniting all people at the hour, the minute, the second.
Watching over the city, it sees the happiness, the heartbreak and the different experiences of every person.
Standing above a roundabout, the face looks on as the double-decker buses and taxis fly by, stopping for no one.
It is funny how everyone knows the clock tower as Big Ben, yet that is not its name, it is really St. Stephen’s Tower.
Big Ben, which I have never seen, and few people ever do, is the 13-ton bell within the tower, ringing out to the entire city, though only the tourists seem to notice the noise.
No matter how many times I see it, it will always be breathtaking.
When I step off of the plane into Heathrow Airport and drive into the city of London and look up at Big Ben, more beautiful than Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey, I feel right at home.
And so the plan goes.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.