Greetings from London

I’m at the hotel right now and it’s late.  It feels good, and not good to be back in London.  Good because I feel oddly at home here, and not so good for reasons I can’t explain.

The best part so far has been riding the tube.  I guess if you’ve been car-free as long as I have, you can deal with any public transportation okay.  No matter where you are, you can get to where you’re going.  I guess I wouldn’t be where I am today if this were not the case, and so it is with everyone.

All I can hear right now is the rain outside and the tap-tapping of the keyboard.  And the rumbling in my throat that I do all the time, my vocal tic that seems to be getting very vocal these days.

On the plane, I switched on Vertical Horizon’s album, Burning the Days.  It seems to be good airplane music, but this morning, VH wasn’t cutting it for me.  I thought of switching to Dave Matthews, but no, that’s dog-walking music.  I went through the listing of albums and Born to Run popped up?  Huh?  I didn’t even know I had that album.  I switched it on and Springsteen began wailing out the first track, “Thunder Road.”

It was all over.  I cry on buses all the time and I’ve cried on planes before, but since I’m not on a plane every day I can’t say it’s an everyday occurrence.  I now know why I ended up at a window seat last night.  The trick is to pretend you’re really fascinated with the cloud cover.  If you turn your head far enough, the people sitting in your row have no clue you’re crying.

I was really bawling, though, enough to take off my glasses, sniffle, and wipe my eyes with my sleeves.

It was my Joe who introduced me to Bruce Springsteen. We used to play this game over the phone, back in the days when the phone was used for conversation, called “Name that Group.”  Let me tell you, Joe knew right away that I was rock-music-challenged, so much so that half the time I guessed “Elvis” not really knowing who else it could be, having never heard of any of the current groups. He saw to it that I got good at this guessing game.

We loved Born to Run, but when Tunnel of Love came out, we had a hard time coming to consensus.  Either you loved that album or you hated it or you weren’t a Springsteen fan.  There’s one thing Joe and I agreed upon, though.  We liked the word “Love.”

We liked the word “love” so much that we rarely told each other that we loved each other.  It wasn’t nthecessary to state and re-state the obvious.  And right then, sitting on the plane, I guess a lot of stuff seemed obvious to me.  Like the passage of time, for one thing.  It’s been nine years since I saw him last, unless you count the times he appeared to me in dreams.

When we first started dating, one outing he took me on was a trip to see the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  Around the beginning of the eighth, Joe said to me, “C’mon, Jules, let’s go.  Our guys are a disgrace today.”

“Huh?  Don’t you want to see the end of the game?”

“Naw, I’m too disgusted. They’re not cutting it today. Lazy fucks.”

Over the years, of course, the Red Sox continued to let us down and let us down.  It was kind of a Boston thing, this getting used to being let down.  You had to have kind of a tough loser skin if you were to spend any time at Fenway Park.

That is, until 2004. But Joe had been dead over a year then.

Here in London, folks aren’t baseball fans as a rule.  It’s a weird unscientific American game based on superstition and luck.  People here didn’t’ grow up on it the way I did in Boston.  They don’t have baseball summers in their backyards.  “Strike” doesn’t mean the same thing here.  But the Olympics are coming to town later this month, which seems to be the big buzz right now.  It’s a city full of anticipation.

This is summer in London.  This is daily rain and daily Changing of the Guard.  Somewhere in the middle of the city, in a little cheap hotel, an American writer sits and muses about this weird place she’s found herself at.  She writes, thinks, and remembers.  She asks herself what the future holds,if it holds anything at all or if it holds nothing and lets life slip through its fingers.

Maybe when I cry on buses, and last night on the plane, it’s cuz life is doing just that, slipping through.  I try to hold it but it is slippery and elusive.  It’s the same for all of us, just a game of superstition and luck.  If we’re lucky, we see a handful of winners in our lives.  I guess that’s asking enough.


6 thoughts on “Greetings from London”

    1. Hi Maz,

      Yes, the accents are quite varied here. Thankfully, I can understand the folks I need to understand. Seems like every time I ask for directions, though, I pick the one person who does not know a word of English! On the way here, I think it was in the airport, someone approached me and asked me, in French, if I knew French. I said in English that I was sorry, that I knew it in high school but have forgotten! She responded, in English, “That’s okay, I understand,” waved, and moved on.


    1. You guys don’t know what crowded is until you’ve been to Boston or New York.

      I was on the DLR today and forgot to “tap out” when I exited at South Quay. Thankfully, after I returned from South Quay to Queensway this evening, a fellow was able to put the money back onto my card. I guess I looked honest enough!

      Readers: In London, when you ride the Tube, you have to tap your Oystercard once to enter, and then again when you exit. If you forget to tap out, you pay the max fare which is something like (correct me if I’m wrong, Gledwood) eight pounds! That’s like over twelve bucks for one ride!

      So I was happy to have that fixed. Those guys at the stations are so helpful! I just tell them I’m a dumb tourist from the US and they take pity on me.

  1. The London tube is amazing… our best feature. I can get from my home to central London in just over 20 minutes, something that would be impossible in many cities of equivalent size.

    As a Londoner, I just wanted to wish you a very happy stay in this, the most Superior City on earth!

    ps some good attractions:

    ~Tate Gallery (Millbank; Pimlico tube) excellent for Pre-Raphaelite pictures (FREE)
    ~Tate Modern (South Bank) modern art (FREE)
    ~National Gallery (Trafalgar Square; Charing Cross or Leicester Square tube) (FREE)
    ~Harrods ~ the most amazing shop on earth. Ties with Macy’s NYC with 1,000,000 sq ft selling space… they sell just about everything.
    ~Buckingham Palace (Victoria or Green Park tube) see how her Maj lives! from there you can walk down the Mall to the Houses of Parliament; St James’s Park is v near, central London’s prettiest park
    ~Charing Cross Road for bookshops (Tottenham Court Rd or Leicester Square tube) currently there is a huge construction project for a new rail station so best get there from Leicester Square… Foyles always used to be the “biggest bookshop in the world” (probably the most disorganized bookshop if the truth be told!)
    ~One of the best walks is the Embankment or the South Bank from Tower Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge, you’ll see the Houses of Parliament and everything… an excellent walk at sundown
    ~The London Eye (Westminster tube) is a giant ferris wheel. It costs about £19 and is well worth it. Website:
    ~The British Museum (Russel Square tube) is a museum of antiquities. Last time I went entry was FREE
    ~Victoria and Albert Museum, a museum of culture
    nearest tube South Kensington (entry FREE)
    ~Natural History Museum and Science Museum (South Kensington tube) FREE
    ~London Zoo (Camden Town or Regents Park tube)
    ~Madame Tussauds (Baker Street tube) life-sized and often very realistic models of the famous and historical
    (nearest tube Tower Hill)

    this is just what came off the top of my head. I hope you have an excellent trip!!:-) 😉 🙂

    1. Hi Gledwood,

      Both of your comments ended up in my Spam folder cuz of the links. Don’t worry, I found them okay. I might check out one or two of these places on Saturday. Thanks! Your parks are very nice. You never know when one will pop up in the middle of a busy section of town.

      Everyone here is complaining about the weather….I don’t get it. I think the weather is quite pleasant.

      MAZ, the Londoners don’t know what heat is! Go check a weather site and see. It’s nice here, 70’s or so I’d guess. At night it can get under 50 but not for long. The weather here is so mild compared to New England, but if you go to Scotland, prepare to really freeze in the winter.

Feedback and comments welcome!