Friday, March 10, 2017

Unglued and Unstuck -- Take 2

I’m going to London. For a month. Solo. I leave in three weeks.


After my month in Manhattan, I decided I’d make that a regular event, but I wanted to add newness to it. What other place could boast enough culture to keep me busy for a month? London!

So I went on VRBO, and an apartment magically appeared. When I checked with friends of mine to see if I’d be near them, they said my neighbors were William and Kate. Yes, I checked the map: I’m across the street from Kensington Palace.

Four years ago, when Sophie was at Oxford for a semester, she and I did the London tourism thing: the Tower of London, the British Museum, Greenwich. So this time, I do the immersion-live-as-a-resident thing. I went online and found a whole bunch of excitements: a play with David Tennant (my Dr. Who, swoon…), Slow Art Day at the National Gallery (“Join a small group in a closed-off room and be guided towards a deeper connection with a painting.”), and the Robots exhibit at the Science Museum with a play Last Supper – of robots! And then, of course, I found things like “16 Incredible Library Bars in London.”

But now it’s 4 a.m., and I’m buzzing because:
  • The phone thing. I have an old phone of Tim’s that I had to “unlock.” When I get to London, I have to go into a phone store and get a local number, a plan, and a SIM card. Everyone says this is “easy.”

  • I think we must have the right electricity adaptor somewhere in the house.
  • I want to catch an author program for Cityread London, and they’re at libraries all over: Camden, Stratford, Westminster, Kingston, Ilford, Bexley, Bromley, Slough, and Reading. And then it hit me: I have absolutely no geographic understanding of London. I can’t tell boonies from next neighborhood over.

So, yes, on one level I know I will conquer all these things, and I will appreciate the adventure. But right now, they’re swimming around in my head. How do I phone the apartment owner to meet me at the apartment if I don’t have a phone?!? At Jamaica Station in New York, I borrow a phone from a stranger when I know which train I’ll be on (since there are no pay phones anymore). Sophie says people will think I’ll steal their phone, and British people will think I’m suspicious. Gene in London says: “if you try to start up a conversation with a stranger you will be assumed to be mentally unwell. One does not DO that in London.” Uh, oh, I DO that all the time!

And then it hit me: my month in New York was like re-entering a culture where I fit in. I could swim in familiar waters. Strangers talked to each other all the time. I knew where Penn Station was, that Battery Park was there, and Central Park there, even without ever having lived there.

So this is a BIGGER adventure.

I don’t recall thinking like this before living in Costa Rica for a summer. Why is that? Because it was a homestay so I had someone to ask? Because I was traveling with littler-girl Sophie and had to be the Mom? Because I knew it was going to be Foreign-with-a-capital-F and took it slowly (not with a calendar already swimming with entries)? Because Central American culture works for me?

Because no one had phones and SIM cards to deal with?!?
These are 4 a.m. thoughts. I have to remember that when I first planned my trip to Manhattan, I called the blog post Unglued and Unstuck. So I’m unsticking and getting unglued again.

Time to go back to bed.

But first: What should I see and do in London? What’s on your list? What discoveries have you made that I shouldn’t miss? (Still relishing the recommendation to visit Macy’s wooden escalator in New York….)

1 comment:

  1. We loved all of our tours with a company called London Walks. You can find everything on their website.


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