Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

It’s a small world, afterall (and apologies if that’s now stuck in your head like it is mine) July 1, 2008

Okay, so now that you understand the diverse mix of critical and useless items contained in my cheap ass army/navy store external frame backpack, it’s time to talk about what happened next. Dressed like an extra on the set of Hair, I arrived – completely sleep deprived and first thing in the morning – at the Gatwick airport, and headed to downtown London. Also, and unrelated, does London have any kind of nifty nickname like the Big Apple, or Sin City, or the City of Lights, Beantown, or The Windy City or even The Town Too Tough to Die? I looked around, and came up with zilch…

Day One

Now here’s where I honestly can’t explain to you where I get my information: For some reason I was anticipating something akin to Charles’ Dickens’ London, replete with horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, and gas lamps aplenty. Thus, you can imagine my horror at finding myself in a major metropolis rather like Manhattan. In fact, I was so overwhelmed, depressed, and just plain old exhausted, that I went and lay down on a park bench and slept. I am not exaggerating or making that up. Actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever admitted that to anyone, it being so out of character for me to completely abandon all common sense. Obviously, as a fairly cute 19-year old blonde, it was an incredibly dangerous and stupid (and, let’s be honest, homeless person-esque) move. Nonetheless, and happily, I survived.  Too cheap to pay the money to check my bag with an attendant at the bus station and not necessarily knowing where I was or where I was headed, I set out into the big city on foot.

I wandered by Westminster Abbey, but there was no time for tours. Plus, I hadn’t really had any practice carrying that bag around, and it was really freaking heavy. I started to realize that if someone pushed me over, I was likely going to be stuck that way for a long while.

Picture the scene: I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and even disheartened and a resounding inner dialogue of “What have I done!?!?” is not helping the situation. At one point, I realize my Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls have come loose from their place inside my sleeping bag, and a leg is dragging down the filthy sidewalk. So as I’m wandering down this insanely busy two-lane street  and trying to figure out what would be a good next move, I glance across and recognize a couple that lived upstairs from me in Santa Cruz. I swear. He always wore a black trench coat, and as a pair they were immediately recognizable. I start picking up the pace to keep up with them, and all the while I’m recollecting how she was an INCESSANT talker. I mean, the kind of person where you can not get a word in edgewise. However, I’m alone and poor in a huge, strange city and maybe they’re living here or could put me up or ??? But, then again, Angela really does run her mouth something fierce…

And at that moment they started to turn down a parallel street, and – for better or worse – I let them go. I know, I know. The odds of this are phenomenally small, and it really was an amazing coincidence, and how often in life does one get such an “in your face” of what a small world it is? On the other hand, if I hadn’t decided to let them continue on their merry way, I may have never spent all that time in lovely Liverpool.

 

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