I arrived at the London Eye at the same time the snow did. All morning I lolled around the house, enjoying sunshine and blue skies, and then as soon as I got to Westminster, bang, snow, freezing rain, wind…my jeans were soaked six inches up the cuff by the time I got to the ticket office. Twenty minutes later it was clear so I finally got the last touristy thing out of the way: the London Eye has become the biggest icon of the city (not to mention tourist draw) since it was erected in time for the new millennium, but I’d always shunned it as being touristy. I changed my mind though when I realized it would afford me a view of the city I haven’t had before, and I’ve had many. So I went. It was beautiful. The whole city laid out like a maze underneath me, the buildings uniformly grey up in the sky. I played at picking out favourite landmarks and gazing off down the river. The only thing marring my trip were two American women, probably about my age, who were obviously on a vay-cay-shun and who kept exclaiming “oh, that’s a pretty building!” *click* “what is that?” *click* “That’s another good one of Big Ben!” causing me to forcibly restrain myself from pointing out they’ve just taken a picture of Charing Cross train station and the bell tower which contains Big Ben, but there you go. I mean, what is the point of having a picture of something if you don’t know that it loses sixteen minutes every year and that Charing Cross marks the final stage of Queen Eleanor’s funeral journey back to London? The Amies were out en masse today…everywhere I went I heard them. I hate how I sound when I talk to Americans. My voice gets higher and I tend to say “like” and “ya know” more. To my ears I sound more apologetic, almost “hey, we’re Americans together, isn’t it embarrassing?” I went to the King’s Arms in Greenwich for a roast dinner (I had planned on going to the Trafalgar, but they don’t serve dinner on Sundays, so I had to content myself with stealing a box of matches instead. I wasn’t overly upset though because they didn’t have “Hardy’s Kiss” on tap anyway.) and the girl behind the bar THERE was an American! Whilst I was tucking into my roast (and a very acceptable ale called “Broadside”) a gaggle of tourists came in and struck up a conversation with the girl behind the counter, and she was very friendly, suggesting they take a bus ride, a boat ride…again, I had to stop myself from leaping up and offering myself as a tour guide. Instead I ordered treacle sponge for dessert. I remembered how much my parents enjoyed the double-decker bus tour and, if you only have a few days, they are a great way to see the city. But to truly enjoy London, you need to walk it. And walk it and walk it and walk it. I’ve been doing so much walking I’m getting shin splints. I feel like I’ve got the whole city embedded on my brain, details, maps, history, culture. It’s full: there’s no more room. Tomorrow I’m going to do laundry and spend a day inside off my feet. I’ve settled on a plan of action re: moving back to the States, but the idea of memorizing another city is overwhelming. I’ll have to take it one day at a time.
First thing on the agenda though: find a place where there’s pints of ale and British people. I don’t want to have a squeaky voice again, ya know? I’m leaving in three days. Well, two, I guess. It’s still hard for me to fathom moving away permanently. I know, everyone says I’ll be back, and never say never, but I won’t be the same. I keep watching commercials for shows at the end of the week, or seeing notices for plays I’d like to see and thinking “well, I’ll miss that…I wonder what’s playing at home now?” And I have no way of knowing, so it’s a very disconnected feeling. Soon all the necessary daily objects that fit into my city life will become souvenirs. I was talking to a friend the other night about how I was feeling: I always thought, somehow that I had made the Decision to come to London, study here, and that the rest would take care of itself…and now I’m faced with the need to make yet more choices about what to Do with myself. Only this time all the choices are equally appealing and cool. The only thing I know is that I am choosing to come back to America, and that I must do Theatre. Now is not the time for temping, getting money ahead, saving for “the future.” The future is here. The day has come. It’s very exciting.
PS: Next year’s scene painting project? If you look closely in the middle you can see the auld one-handed adulterer, as Joyce referred to him.