L is for London
Every year at this time I begin to think of London.
This stems, I think, from a trip that I took in college that I seem to write about in January every two years, like clockwork.
The difference, this year, is that I woke up yesterday morning thinking about how nice it would be to board a plane to London. I did not think about the shivering girl that I was back then, sitting at an ancient computer in an internet cafe (and Asian clothing store), emailing my far-away boyfriend for a pound an hour and trying not to cry in public.
I did not think about the time that I got lost and became terribly afraid that I would be kidnapped, murdered, and thrown in the Thames.
I didn’t think about the woman at Tesco who asked me if I was happy as I purchased a sad pre-made sandwich, or about the soggy pieces of baklava I purchased from Spar each evening. I didn’t even think about the way my professor used to order things for me at restaurants, worried that I wasn’t eating. He didn’t know about my budget conscious “fridge” (the outer window-sill of my hotel room).
Instead, I thought about a conversation I had a couple of months ago with a favorite professor of mine. He has led that same trip and we’ve talked before about my coming along sometime as a TA. At the time of our conversation, I was just beginning to find my freelance writing feet. A dream took root in my heart. I could embrace London on my own terms this time. I could bring my whole self along with me.
After years of invisible shudders as I thought about that large city, and indeed, that country, something has shifted. London wraps her romantic arms around me again.
Yesterday morning, I was thinking about soup.
All over London, and indeed the United Kingdom, I ate soup. I always ordered soup and bread, whatever was on the menu. I ate stews and soups with clear broth, I slurped down creamy, smooth bisques. The bread varied, like the soup. Sometimes it would come in the form of a slice of thick, crusty loaf, other times there were tiny ovals of fresh baguette or a hearty roll. It was always hot and deliciously comforting.
In the mornings we would all have breakfast in our hotel before proceeding on to the day’s activities. After a few days, I realized that it was possible to request toast. A variety of types of toast would come out of the kitchen fetchingly displayed in a metal toast rack (I’d never seen anything like it before). Much later, I purchased one of my own.
Now, as I think about London, I am seldom thinking of the past. Instead, I wonder about the Indian buffets I will find, and look forward to my opportunity to slide into the Savoy for a vintage cocktail. I scheme and dream about meeting friends who live outside the city. This time, I think, I will ride the London Eye.
The differences are subtle, but to me they feel like hope. The cloud of depression, of suicidal thoughts and desperation are beginning to break and blow away. The wind is changing and I am preparing, like Mary Poppins, to descend upon London once more.
This post is the twelfth installment of a series called A to Z, one for each letter of the alphabet. These posts will be in order, about whatever strikes my fancy, posted each Monday (or so).
To read "A is for Aravis" click here.
To read "B is for Bacon" click here.
To read "C is for Cake" click here.
To read "D is for Depression" click here.
To read "E is for Email" click here.
To read "F is for Finally" click here.
To read "G is for Grace" click here.
To read "H is for Hope" click here.
To read "I is for Infant" click here.
To read "J is for Jelly" click here.
To read "K is for Knife" click here.