What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
Wednesday May 25, 2016
My first stop was London. I was surrounded by accents. My favorite accents. I loved it.
The way they say “water” and “brilliant” and they say “Cheers!” all day long. Quite jolly people. I love listening to them talk. Music to my ears. I saw a bus that said, “Las Vegas: Where your accent is an aphrodisiac”. I giggled and silently agreed. I liked the outskirts of the city more than the middle. The middle had the throngs of people.. masses of people going to and from work in a frenzied hurry. Business suits and fancy dresses all surging toward me. It felt odd to be going against the stream in my huge backpack and “normal” clothes. I felt like I was going nowhere. I felt like a rock in a fast moving river. People bumped me. People avoided eye contact. Perfect clothes. Top Shops and Versace and fancy, light up stores all around.
I much preferred Camden and Shoreditch.
Camden was more alternative. Hippy. Funky. Curious.
There were tattoo parlors, funky shops, pubs…
There were man buns, tattoos, dreadlocks, colored hair…
I went into one tourist shop and the owner cornered me, trying quite aggressively to get me to buy something. I politely refused. He persisted. I, again, refused. Finally, he led me to the back of his store. There was this dark hallway lit with backlights. He told me that I should follow him down the hallway to his special collection that he just KNEW that I would like. He wrapped me in a hug, a little too close, a little to long. That bit of icy panic crystalized in deep in my tummy and crept to my throat. I needed to get away. I pushed away from him and his suffocating smell of canned green beans and curry and hurried out of the shop, my head down, averting the gaze of everyone, not wanting anyone to know the embarassment I felt.
The situation rattled me.
I rushed quickly past the throngs of tourists, trying to get rid of that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I finally slowed once I got to the bridge and saw the arch proclaiming “CAMDEN LOCKS” and colored tents beyond.
I wandered through the gate, the beat of my heart slowing to normal as I took in my surroundings. There was table after table of paintings, jewelry, precious stones, homemade clothes, wooden carvings… all the beautiful things. I felt at ease. It was a feast for the eyes.. all the wonderful things.
Then I happened upon the food area…
People were thrusting samples at me left and right.
There were booths with any kind of food from every country that you could imagine.
The smells were intense, mouthwatering and all around me. Wafting through the food court. My stomach answered the smells, lurching in hunger.
I wandered, tasting small bits of burritos, gyros, curry, scrambled eggs, goat cheese, pizza, croissant sandwiches, nachos, stir fries, gelato…
And a booth in the corner caught my eye. It was wooden, like a tiki shack. It had big leaves weaving up and down and over the top. It looked tropical. I was intrigued. I walked closer and behind the counter of the booth was the most gorgeous man… long, tousled dark hair, Jared Leto eyes, arms slathered in colorful tattoos… and then the smell hit me.. ohhh wow.
“Pulcina! Would you like to try out my country’s specialty?”
He talked to me. I jumped. Then I remembered that I was just another customer to him.
I graciously accepted. Having no idea what he was handing me, but stuffing it in my face in case he talked to me again.
My mouth danced in happiness.
IT WAS CHEESE! CHEESE OF THE MOST AMAZING SORT!!
“Ohhh WoW!! Dude!! I think thats the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!!” I realized what I said and quickly continued, “What is that?? I want all of it. Where are you from? What is your country’s specialitY? Why are you in London?”
I was wrapped up in crazed anxiety, trying to not act too weird, too crazy, but in trying to do so, I ended up sounding even moreso.
He smiled a perfect smile and answered that he was from Sicily. He was giving me Haloumi cheese, which wasn’t exactly his nation’s speciality, but one of his favorite things in the world.
I immediately blurted out, “ME TOO!!”
I have no idea what I ordered or what he said but I gave him the money and watched him work his wizardry behind the desk, on the grill, putting on the haloumi…. I was entranced. My stomach churning with hunger and delight.
He gave me my to go box of whatever he concocted and I thanked him profusely.
I weaved through the crowds and reached the canal and sat down at an relatively empty part of the canal where the branches of the overhanging trees leaned over the path down to dip their leaves into the slowly running waters below to sprinkle their flower petals like confetti and let them flow downstream.
It. Was. Amazing.
Everything came together.