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September 30, 2012

This Is It

Where do I even start?

The Tube doesn’t take Scottish pounds.  And I should’ve brought my camera, and a map, with me on my first walk around the city.

I guess the whole experience is so overwhelming that it’s those two little things that are sticking with me right now.  It’s about 8:30 local time (which is the only time that matters), and I’m sitting in a room, in London, living my life.  How lucky can one person get?

This was taken during the period, an hour or two before scheduled departure, that I still feared picketing pilots.

My flight arrived twenty minutes late, which I suppose was good given that we left forty minutes late.  That itself was good because the men and women of American Airlines decided today was not the day to strike.  They knew it was important to me, I guess.

I was originally seated next to a Danish fellow, who, shortly after being seated, grunted something at the stewardess which, despite being unintelligible to me (and probably to her), resulted in his reseating, about twenty rows behind me.  He was replaced in short order by a young French fellow who sat, silently, for the duration of the flight, watching Prometheus with French subs.  That’s a good seatmate, if you ask me.

Getting my 53 lb bag (should I be using kilograms now? I don’t even know!) fifteen stops along the Picadilly line was a bit of a horrific ordeal — on a scale of first-world ordeals —, but was much improved by the interesting cast of characters that hopped on and off the train.  A Chinese family, the matriarch of whom spoke no visible English, but whose daughter got by in broken tones and whose granddaughters chirped away with sharp London accents, sat across from me.  Next to me was a rather corpulent fellow whose tired look, drooping mustache, and hard hat suggested he was a night construction worker.  He dozed intermittently as the couple next to him, deliberately dressed in torn jeans and ripped t-shirts, made increasingly loud comments about the “plainness” of the people around them.

I exited the Tube, incidentally, right opposite a Tesco’s Express, which, for those of you not blessed with a desire to buy the cheapest food available, is a British food market, roughly equivalent to our CVS or Walgreens, but with more food and less everything else.  I mention it only because I’m sure it’ll be a frequent character in future posts.  Might as well you meet it now.

I’ve spent the hours since walking past the Tesco’s to my dorm, Passfield Hall, trying to settle myself in my surrounding.  For those of you who don’t know me, settling is a pretty fundamental instinct for me.  Wherever I am, and whatever I’m doing, I like to have a place that I can retreat to.  It’s what makes traveling very unsettling for me – the actual act of it.  Being somewhere is wonderful.  It’s the going there, untethered, that gets quite unnerving for me.

The new workspace — dark now, because my roommate is sleeping.

I don’t think it would be fair for me to try to capture my impressions of London right now.  I’ve been here less than twelve hours.  I’ll try to get another post up in a few days, once I’m officially registered and have an ID card, and then maybe I can start to compare things.  For now, I’m here.  In London.  This is it.

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