The only way I will be able to gather my thoughts is if I try to go in order. Nine fourty-five London time we touched down at Heathrow. That was Wednesday morning. Our plane departed Detroit at 10pm on Tuesday. It still felt like Tuesday. I slept a very broken one and a half hour on the plane. Partially due to excitement. But also because I had been getting so much sleep at home in the days prior. Summer sleep hours. A beautiful thing. There was a very loud drunk lady in the seat directly behind me [fantastic]. Thankfully, she went “night-night” [yes, her words] pretty much the moment we took off and stayed asleep [passed out] until about half an hour before touchdown. Score.
How did I busy myself on the plane? Lord, only knows without in-flight wifi. With in interwebz in tow, six and a half hours is nothing. I could have really made some decent headway with Torchwood. Still, I managed to make the time pass without even cracking open the one book I brought along. I ate my plane food. I chatted with my neighbor; she was a professor at some university in Michigan and had been a visiting faculty at Queen Mary—small world = helpful world. Now I know to go to Whitechapel to a cheap Bangladeshi market to get a quilt for my bed. And apparently I also must try Masala Zone. Super excited for the prominence of Indian food here. There was a disappointingly severe lacking in Los Angeles.
I wrote. I listened to some music. With three hours left, I watched Midnight in Paris on the tiny screen above my tray table. It was brilliant [the film, not the screen]. While I may not have been snickering at every obscure intelligentsia crack [see @realjohngreen’s appropriate tweet], it did what it should – made me really frakin’ want to go to Paris. Marion was gorgeous, Owen could had been played by anyone, and Rachel was a stellar bitch. Umbridge props to her.
Customs was fine. My mom even managed to score us priority vouchers. I checked two gigantor suitcases, and I felt like an absolute American twat hauling them all over London. I just wanted to throw all my clothes away and consolidate into one. Mind you, at this point, the grump is starting to set in. We made it off the tube at Bayswater £5! And then came the hellish climb up the stairs. Why UK. Y U NO HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE. Put some elevators in your tube stations for your poor, weary tourists. I know you don’t want to keep us around, but jaysus, that was a nightmare. I had to make double trips; Mom nearly threw her knee out just trying to manage her carry-on. Blisters sprouted on my palms. The grump was sealed. And then came the 15 minute scramble at the turnstile for my mom to locate her ticket. And then out into London.
We should have gotten off at Paddington. Bayswater was hardly a glamorous part of town. At least where the station spits you out. And my iPhone was not working so it was up to the map and print out directions to navigate us [and my embarrassing plethora of luggage] to our hotel.
What first surprised me was the amount of people in the streets. Even on side streets. There was always people about. [Annnnnd the television just creepily turned on on its own volition. Alrighty then.] This was never the case in Los Angeles or Indy. I was doing well if there were two people in addition to myself strolling around a residential area. Maybe I’ve been away from New York for too long. [Also the TV is in German. WTH.] Another thing that has struck me—languages. Sometimes I’m half convinced that the Brits are just faking their accents. Because it is just that magical to me. I love that that is the standard sound. But then that also makes me self-conscious to open my mouth. Like I automatically sound like an American idiot. That’s definitely how I felt in the shop when I picked up a pay-as-you-go phone. Judged by the salesman. Stupid American girl and her stupid American mother buying her a stupid phone.
I think Mom is a bit disappointed with our hotel. I think she expected it to be this little boutique place and instead we have a pretty standard room, other than the fact that it is shoebox size. And I mean teeny. It can barely hold the bed. But I really don’t mind. We’re just north of Hyde Park and the houses / flats in this neighborhood are stunningly old, and white, and uniform, and just beautiful. I wish I knew my architectural periods better so I could describe them in a Google-able way for you..
We wandered into a little Spanish café that served French sandwiches [no sé]. Our servers were stern, but nice. They helped us out. It seemed like a family establishment, with a counter on one side and cramped little tables on the other. I ordered a brie and avocado sandwich on “plain” bread [because that was the only one I “thought” I picked up out of her heavy accent reeling off the choices]. Plain turned out to be Wonder Bread consistency. Again, I felt pegged as the stupid American. Stupid American who orders overly processed white bread. Dude, I don’t even eat that stuff when I’m at home. But in a bizarre way it was sort of comforting to gum my meal. Out with the old [gross, processed white bread], in with the new [fresh brie and ripe avocado].
At the café, even after getting some food in my system, I was nodding off right in my chair, so back at the hotel I squeezed in an hour nap before meeting up with Kayley. The two of us and our mothers attempted some shopping—with limited to no success. Where the hell do you buy bedding and/or pillows in this town? We stopped at some random pub for drinks and recuperation. I was yet again slapped in the face with a je-suis-americainne when I stumped the bartender by ordering a Shirley Temple. He was a nice bloke though and insisted I tell him how to make it. They were out of cherries so he offered me a strawberry instead. It turned out fine and I told him to Google the thirties child actress when he got home. He said he’d do it on his phone when he was pretending to be busy with work. Fair enough.
The evening with Kayley was spent by us failwhaling at navigating with her iPhone—our mothers obediently trailing behind. We ended up at this posh “modern European” restaurant for dinner, The Ivy. I had a small portion of the butternut squash risotto. Yes. A million times yes. Then Kayley and I began the way-too-long-should-have-taken-the-tube-now-I-have-permanent-blisters trek to the NextUp headquarters. Lex and Sanne were supposed to be waiting/dancing for us in front of Victoria station, but instead they both ran up to us. I accidentally punched Sanne in the face while going in to hug her. Welcome to the land of sleep deprivation. We hung out for hours in Khyan and Ciaran’s hotel room. Both of them were lovely. Utterly bushed, I curled up on the floor to snooze until I was woken up to watch some bizarre YouTube video. Evidently, Lex uses her hair to express herself and green is NOT a creative color. I kept eating somebody’s chocolate and an editing party going on all around me. I was just happy to be where I was with such awesome people. And even happier when I got to crawl into Sanne’s bed at 2am.
Not quite as happy when my alarm went off yesterday[?] morning. Sanne left me the cutest note and some foodz. And I proceeded to do my first [of many] Tube Ride of Shame. In this instance back to my mom’s hotel. I showered and fell asleep again [the latter to the wrath of my mother, but hey, she’s got to get guilt trip ammunition from some source]. We did a boat tour down the Thames, had a delicious dinner at Café Rouge [soufflé au FROMAGE], and back home to bed!
And here I am. This is a novella. But now you know. And now future me can be reminded.