Monday, December 18, 2006

And every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be homeward bound

And the countdown starts. Five days until home! All the shopping that I can do here is done. One bag is already packed and I’ll start packing the other one soon. I’ve already listened to my “Going Home” playlist once, and I’m making a mental list of things to eat, places to go, and people to hug. I love London, I truly do, but it’s time for this Carolina girl to go home, if only for a little while.

Our work Christmas party was quite good. And interesting. I had a great time, talked to a lot of people, and just had a fun, relaxing time. I learned that me and a white sweater attracts red whine like a moth to a flame, as well as exactly how much wine it takes to make me dance. But other than a few harmless phone calls to good friends the evening was stupidity-free. And a lot of fun.

Saturday I took a three-hour walk through Hyde Park – with a short pit-stop on the Queensway side for some Starbucks. I saw an absurd number of attractive men pushing baby carriages, and an equally absurd number of over-dressed-for-the-park women with their yappy not-a-dogs with names like “Carly” and “Baby.” And at one point a group of soldiers of some kind, in full uniform and in perfect formation, marched through singing in Latin. Combined with the cool air and falling leaves, it was like a scene from a movie. Unfortunatley there was almost a repeat of another scene from a movie when I went around the Big Pond, against my better judgment, and had to fend off pigeons, swans, ducks, and seagulls. Ya’ll don’t know how close you were to losing me – I honestly thought my heart was just going to stop beating from fear. But I kept my eyes on the prize – Starbucks – and made it through.

Sunday I made a trip to Harrods as a favor for Mom, and was happy to have information point me exactly where I needed to be and to not have to wait in a long queue once I was there. I then made the mistake of wandering into the toy area. Screaming, running, bratty kids running all over the place. Shouldn’t they be left at home so the parents can shop for them and surprise them? Ugh. I wasn’t very impressed with the toy section anyway. Only about five Barbies and their other doll section was equally pitiful. The board game selection was nice, but we already have them all, and it seemed like too much of the department was devoted to magic tricks, which I’m just not into.

After a great lunch of a hot bagel sandwich, I went to the Victoria and Albert museum. It is a massive museum full of every kind of artifact from every period you can think of. They say they are grouped by region and era, but sometimes I really don’t believe them. I think there are five floors, but honestly, I’ve never made it past the second. And Sunday I didn’t make it past the fashion exhibit on the first floor. I spent an hour looking at all the dresses and suits from different eras. They had a new exhibit on 60s London fashion which was wonderful, and even a display on women’s lingerie. But the highlight was seeing this, in person, up close, for real.

Yes, my favorite Diana dress, was there. And it’s just as stunning in person as one would think.

I then glanced around the shop, of course, and on my way out ran into my associate pastor. This is the second time in London I’ve run into someone I know just while out and about and it makes me smile for a long time afterward. It’s such a big city, and since I don’t know that many people, it makes it feel smaller when something like this happens. I remember when I first started at Carolina, thinking that the place was too big and that I could never imagine seeing anyone I’d know just while walking around. Ha. I was lucky if I could go one day without seeing someone I knew. But in London it's still such a rare occurrence I don't mind it too much...yet.

So close...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

“Maybe ‘extremely lucky’ are the most appropriate words of the evening. But he can’t have them. They don’t apply to him. They apply to us.” - AL

Apologies for writing so very little for the last month. I feel like it has flown by in a whirlwind of guests, trips, shopping, walking, rain, and work. Especially work. I am beyond exhausted, just absolutely physically drained, and am ready to go home and re-charge for a bit. As happy as I have been here, and I am very happy here, I need my safe haven, need that piece of me back for a bit.

Let’s see, nothing too exciting to report. I haven’t done much the past few weeks or weekends, unfortunately. I am in the process of getting sick and tried to sleep it away this weekend – to no avail. And I am so tired after work that I can’t even manage to drag myself to the theatre – now you know exactly how exhausted I’ve been!

But enough complaining. It’s December and I’m in London! The lights have all been switched on and the store windows are decked out. The windows at Selfridge’s are my favorites, and I catch something different each time I walk by. To be honest, I am not overly impressed with Oxford Street’s lights, but they do have big chandelier type lights every few rows and if you weren’t already aware, chandeliers rank right up there with fountains in my book. The night they turned the lights on on New Bond Street, they had a snow machine, so as I walked down Oxford bits of “snow” hit my face. I think I smiled all the way home. I went to Covent Garden this weekend – one of my favorite places in London – and got to hear the cast of “Sweet Charity” sing a Christmas carol, and also got to gaze at the truly hideous Covent Garden Christmas tree. It’s like gnomes decorated it – the lights are only at the bottom, and there are probably less than 10 star ornaments on it, all placed haphazardly. By gnomes.

I am still having trouble realizing that Christmas is so close. I get like this every year I suppose. It never felt like Christmas until after finals were over, until after I was home, so I’m assuming it will be the same thing this year. But I am nearly finished with my Christmas shopping, just a few things to pick up once I’m back home. But at least I stuck to a budget this year – gasp! But don’t be alarmed, I keep buying myself random things to make up for it.

Our work Christmas party is this week. It’s my first Christmas party as an adultish person and I’m excited. It should be interesting to say the least. Starts at 2 p.m. and moves to a pub at 4 p.m. that doesn’t close until midnite. And it’s free alcohol. Did I mention it will be interesting?

In the meantime, I'm counting down the days until I'm back in the land of biscuits that aren't cookies, with TVs showing Carolina basketball and NFL games, with all my friends in the same time zone, where I can walk around my house with my eyes closed and never get lost.


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