Tuesday, January 27, 2009

XIX: These Days (Part 1)

I'm back. To real life, anyway.

The last month has been wild. It would be an absolute injustice to try and describe it all through a bunch of meaningless words... because no matter how hard I try to develop a coherent story in my head, it simply ceases to exist in the proper way. It just comes out in my imagination as a series of images and wordless emotions, which look more like blurry, silent home-videos inside a darkened room, than anything else anybody would really fully understand.

Most of my friends and family have already heard some of the stories... about how we went to Edinburgh for New Year, about the long-awaited Beatles pilgrimage to Liverpool, and the brief few weeks afterwards where I got to smash my two worlds together (Simi life meets London life). Oh yeah, and I can't forget about the spontaneous one-night birthday celebration in Paris.

So instead of attempting to document every single minute little detail in what would surely turn into a thousand too many paragraphs, I'll try to take a more reflexive route. Which means, I may quite possibly write things that make no sense to you whatsoever, that serve more as personal reminders to myself about how I felt. Sorry in advance... but I promise to add in some photographs for nostalgia's sake.

I suppose I'll just pick up where I left off. After Christmas, Kim and I didn't have much more to do but wait for Shawn and James to arrive. So when they finally got here on the 28th of December, I was all but exploding inside my own skin for the excitement of seeing them. We were waiting for them inside Heathrow airport, and I'm pretty sure I was jumping up and down in anticipation for what felt like forever - because we knew their plane had landed and that any minute, they'd come walking through the doors with all their luggage. So when they finally came out, both wearing all dark colors and the only two in the entire airport wearing sunglasses - I felt absolutely hysterical.

Here comes the rockstar... and his accountant.

It was a fantastic feeling to see them. The few months in between, where they were there and I was here, all of a sudden seemed to have disappeared. The waiting was over and our friends were here - and it couldn't have been more surreal. For the first few hours, I couldn't stop looking at them. How strange.

After my initial hysteria started to wear off, we were finally on our way to begin the holiday. There was an excruciatingly long bus-ride to Edinburgh- somewhere in between point A and point B, we stopped at rest-point that looked like Baker's Square. There was a VW van... we could've been anywhere in the world. It was freezing but we smoked a lot of cigarettes anyway. Inside the coach, we TRIED to get some sleep and we played a little bit of musical chairs in the back of the bus. Shawn and I exchanged iPod's for a little while, then at the end, he found a battered copy of "Angels & Demons."

Edinburgh was cold. There was a leftover French funk in our room at the hostel, so we had to get air freshener. We drank A LOT, we talked to a ton of random people walking through the streets drunk in the middle of the night, saw people in kilts, watched the torch ceremony, ate warm donuts, had a temporary run-in with the devil (who was waiting for us in a wrapped package under a Christmas tree), gazed at a fireworks display and danced the nights away. We never saw the light of day until it was time for Shawn, James and I to leave days later.

The last 24-something hours of being in Scotland (Dec. 31 - Jan. 1), we stayed awake the whole time. I was miserably tired and I vaguely remember being babied while the guys took care of checking out and everything else. The girl at the reception desk was rude. And at some point, I was on the couch in the hostel common room, trying to get warm and squeeze in a few minutes of sleep before catching a 12:30 train to Liverpool. Eventually, we took a cab to Kim's dorm to say goodbye - and minutes later, found ourselves heading south back to England.

Liverpool was something else entirely. It was seedy, but the people were nice. And the lady at the cafe had super-long acrylic nails. We went on a Magical Mystery Tour... which turned out to be a spiritual journey through everything Beatles... including the real Penny Lane, the real Strawberry Fields, the real homes of the fab four, and the real Cavern Club. We went on a hotel-hunt for Ringo, then later I stood next to the spirit of John Lennon inside a museum, and we all celebrated being there by going to a dirty McDonald's. The last night the three of us were there, we experienced the heebie jeebies- which maybe should have warned us about the short series of unfortunate events that would follow...

On Jan. 4, while buying train tickets back to London, James had a fraud problem with his debit card and had to cancel it. Then, our train back to London from Liverpool was experiencing technical difficulties. A ride that should have only been a few hours turned into a 7-hour ordeal. We got on each other's nerves a little bit - probably from all the stress, the lack of sleep from the last week, and having to wait in the blistering cold through an unorganized mess of coach transfers. Which reminds me... I still need to go to Euston station to try and claim refunds for our tickets.

When we finally got back to London, we were exhausted. I stole the cushions from the downstairs couch so James would have something soft to sleep on. Shawn and I crammed on my single bed. The next five days were a little weird - partly because of the 24/7 close proximity the three of us were in, partly because James was in an unfortunate debit card situation, and partly because everywhere I wanted to take them seemed to be closed. I had no idea what was going on - maybe all of London was still on holiday. Still, we made the most of it by continuing our Beatles journey, walking around A LOT (of course in our billions of layers of clothing), having late-night dinners at "Falafel King" and seeing the city from the top of a giant ferris wheel.

The days just seemed to fly by. It was a bit unnerving to watch my two worlds collide the way they did... seeing people from home in a completely different context. But I was still having a great time, and I was happy to be with them. All the while, something inevitable was lurking behind us...

To be continued...

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