Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Day in London

On London mornings, the sun looks as if it is still tired and the clouds are covering most of the sky. You step out of your building and you smile a big smile. The greatest city in the world and it is all yours. It is 8:30am as little kids on scooters fly past their parents to head towards school. Morning deliveries are being dropped off at each of the hotels and slowly the city comes to life. You wonder, how can this many people be in such a small space? Sped-walking and Boris-biking commuters continuously make you feel like you need to be going somewhere more important and successful. You like being surrounded by success and achievement, even if you aren't necessarily a part of it. The puddles on the ground are frosted over and there is a strong wind that is making your eyes water. You smile at the cabbie who lets you cross the street in a no-cross zone - look at that, a random act of kindness in a big city! London mornings are always crisp, clean and fresh.. giving you hope for the day.

London afternoons bring rain or even colder winds. Unlike the South, London is cold in the mornings and only continues to get colder throughout the afternoon into the night. The pubs start to liven with post work drinkers (and mid-work drinkers) and you walk past the hustling mothers with empty scooters on the way to pick up the kids from school. You realize it is only 4pm and the sky is dark as midnight. Where has the day gone? You feel like it should be time to crawl into bed, but you haven't even had dinner yet. The trees look barren and the sidewalk crunches with frosted leaves. In the sky, an airplane passes over heading to Hearthrow and, as you pull your trench coat tighter, you wish you too could travel fast. Even if it is just back to the flat, this fifteen minute walk seems to get longer and longer as the days get shorter and colder. London afternoons remind you what you're missing: a wood fire, a blanket, and someone to cuddle up with.

London at night is a perpetually rumbling beast. It is difficult not to answer its call and join in the fun. You find yourself in the huddled masses of the Tube surrounded by young, old, rich, poor, natives and tourists. Everyone with somewhere exciting to go. The nights in London make you thankful for coat checks and warm alcoholic drinks as your fingers are numb from the walk to the bar. You smile at the men in tight suits and the women with puffy hair and bright red lips. Why did all these people choose this place and what are they all searching for? You smile at the bartender for another pint and long for the days when beers cost less than your chicken and mushroom pie. Music plays and some dance, others head outside for the usual smoke and chat. You're surprise at how much people smoke here. You meet a few locals and a few tourists and try to communicate in multiple languages: American, English, French, Spanish.. take your pick. Finally, the most fun happens as the night wavers on and everyone heads home. If you're lucky, you catch the last Tube home at midnight and get to be a part of the mess that is "last call" Tube rides. Yet, a cab always seems so much more appealing as it is direct and fast, and in this cold, you can't risk the walk. Cabbie laughs at the American accent and, even after five months here, you stumble over which is the 5p and which is the 10p as you pay. The flat is suddenly the only place in the world you'd like to be and you kick off your heels as you fall into bed while the clock ticks to 3:48am.

Its 5:04am and you wake up to a text message from a friend (thanks, time difference). You roll over to go back to sleep and you're surprised to hear the sound of birds outside your window...Well, birds and the sound of the casual car driving past but hey, you're used to the cars. It is 5 in the morning and it's the only time these birds have peace and quiet. The streets will start to liven around 6am and by 7am... and then, it is all you can do to not hear every bus, truck, commuter or kid in the city. At 5am, you love hearing the birds and the cars together.. and as the sun starts to rise, you thank God that you get to experience another London day all over again.

Cheers y'all, Lisa

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