Well, I made it! Whether I’ll make it much further before being compounded by a double-decker bus because I freak out every time I cross the road, well, that’s another story. Thankfully, they actually paint “look right” and “look left” on the street corners. The whole driving-on-the-other-side is going to take some getting used to — even if I’m not the one driving. (Actually, especially if I’m not the one driving!)
Sorry we never got the packing posts up. (As if any of you were waiting on pins and needles to know how many pairs of socks and shoes we were bringing.) It was just was a bit hectic these past few days. Good thing I had my handy reminder to tell me when I was leaving. Kidding. I admit to laughing at myself when this popped up on on my screen before take-off:
In the end, while I succumbed to three bags (two checked, one carry-on) I feel confident that I brought the right AMOUNT of stuff; it’s just too soon to tell whether it’s the right TYPE of stuff.
I got such varying feedback from people regarding the weather. Some people said New York is way colder and I wouldn’t need a down puffer here. Others said, “There’s no cold like London cold.” I brought a handful of items that could go either way — figuring I could always layer. And boy did I need to do that right away. Aside from the fact that my flat had no heat upon arriving at 10a.m. jetlagged and exhausted, today was biting. Like, Rudolph-red-runny-nose-all-day biting. And I don’t think it’s because I’m coming down with something, which, of course, I am. (Great timing, right?) It snowed a bit. Then it rained. Then it snained (snow+rain). But I threw on some thick socks, two sweaters and waited for the boiler to heat up the flat. (Am still waiting, btw.) In the meantime, I started to unpack before quickly realizing there were no hangers. I put away as much as I could and then used my computer’s remaining juice to look up the address for Carphone Warehouse, which is where Ellie suggested I go for my SIM card. Since I didn’t realize the reason why I couldn’t get internet on my phone without WiFi is because I had data roaming turned off (d’oh!), I hand-wrote the directions on a piece of paper — old-school style.
This method, however, really kept me alert as I went about town to find hangers and a SIM card. I knew I couldn’t rely on my phone, so there I was, walking around London in the snain with a piece of paper. The ink started to fade, the paper started to tear, but I liked the rush! The feeling that if it disintegrated, I’d be left to my own devices — not those with an “i” in front of them. It was humbling, in fact. It also forced me to stop and ask people for help along the way, which I am definitely going to do more of whether or not I need it. (“Oh, hello Mr. Cute Brown-Eyed Brit. Could you please tell me where the nearest tube station is? Why yes, I’d love to go for a pint!”) Eventually, I took refuge in a warm Starbucks and the cashier properly sent me on my way. Still, I was proud and impressed by how far I managed to get on my own.
After I got situated with a new mobile number, I went looking for hangers. It was still raining. And cold. And the streets didn’t seem to make any sense. I “looked left,” “looked right” — dropped down off the curb, only to hop back up to avoid a cycler or a taxi — but in the midst of it all, I could only do one thing: smile. Here I was! In London! Finally! On the cobblestones, and winding alleys! A double-decker bus could completely drench me with dirty street water as it whizzed by — and almost did twice — and I’d still be smiling.
Finally, after a while of twisting and turning, I found a hardware-type store and stocked up on some basic household items. Success! By the time I finished, it was around 4:30p.m. and I was beginning to feel — as they say here — knackered. It was time to wander back. On the way, I caught a glimpse of this while “looking right,” “looking left…”
Then, as I managed to find my way back to Wapping without both my data-enabled phone or the old-school instructions, I came upon the London Bridge! So I decided to have a walk over it just for shits and giggles. I didn’t have to “look left,” or “look right” this time. Just straight ahead. And when doing so, I saw the crescent moon — a sliver of silver in the sky. It was almost as if the bridge’s towers were hooked onto the lower curve of it — just like a hanger.
Today I found everything I needed — and discovered more than I could’ve wanted.
Except maybe heat. Yeah, I could use a bit more of that.