Because I somehow managed to pick up a flu bug today, I took a nap. I take naps about every six months or so, and am not very good at it. In fact, usually they result in headaches, even more insomnia than usual and a general sense that all is not right when I awaken. It's really not worth the trouble.
But this evening, because I took that nap, and because of the malaise that comes with a flu bug, I'm also suffering from a lack of inspiration. At least that's what I'm blaming said lack of inspiration on. In any case, last week, after pulling out my travel journal from my backpacking trip through Europe, I read through the whole trip. And...
I've decided that once a week (Ttime-Traveling-Tuesdays!), I'll take you with me on that journey in 1982. Not every sentence of every paragraph, but enough so that you'll have a real sense of the trip, because it was life-changing personally, and pretty cool generally.
Well, you'll see.
So, here we go:
October 11, 1982
London (Earl's Court Youth Hostel)
I've set foot off the North American continent for the first time in my life and I never want to speak again. The voices here are so lovely. And, to sound trite, everyone just plain looks so British. the houses have red roofs and huddle close together, like they have secrets. It's grey, overcast and drizzling, exactly the way I'd envisioned London to be. It's novel...and a novel setting. No wonder they all wanted to write and live and grow here. I want it to seep through my clothes, right into my very being. SK and I have been so involved in getting here that we've hardly walked around at all, but I can wait. It's all out there and I'm alive for it.
But part of me feels like there should be no 'motor cars', no modern buildings. London, even today, is full of Victorian-aged streets, so there should be horse-drawn carriages and women in long dresses. But somehow (as contradictory as this sounds) the punkers fit too. I'm not sure why. But that's the rub of London, I guess.
Why did I want to come to Europe?
In some ways I don't know. I only know that I had to, that seeing these places, living this way was meant to change me. Already my shoulders ache from carrying my pack and my eyes are lead-filled from jet-lag...
OR to say it this way (in the third-person):
She came to London independent, confident, brimming with exuberant anticipation. She set foot on soil she had never felt before. "You'll probably get over there and find it's all just a big map," someone had told her and panic rose as an unbidden, unwelcome companion. "You don't know what you're getting yourself into." But she did know. She'd stopped asking for a knight in shining armor, she put a backpack on her shoulders and went looking for a life. Walking down the streets, past history itself, she stumbled into love of a dialect, a philosophy; yes, a life she could imagine. She watched people carrying on their lives. In city flats (the signs FOR SALE 1 BED FLAT hang on every street) through the windows she saw life--a woman closing drapes on a darkened room, another washing greens, a man reading (Dickens, maybe, or Keats), a young family with a babe still in a high chair. Life and she had come to glimpse it, both yesterday's life and today's.
A young man with purple eye-shadow. An old woman with her gray hair knotted behind her and a gap where her front teeth might have been. Other American voices at the next table (Oh my, the valley-girls have followed us to London). Eating pizza because pubs might take more courage than a first night can muster. Gathering our sea legs.
But sleep will help. Yes, mostly, sleep will help.