Please let this London Diary distract me from my present moment.
So here’s what’s happening:
Me. Car 6, Seat 67. Stinking up the Eurostar. Not only am I committing a major travel foul by eating a smelly egg and chili sandwich in a confined compartment, but because of the lack of airflow bothers no one but me, I can feel my pit stains emitting a mysterious green odor, like that one Spongebob episode.
I want to backtrack and talk about my egg and chili sandwich. Why England, why? When you stop into a convenience, grab-and-go place like Pret a Manger or Pure or Boots or Tesco or the other five million grab-and-gos, you’ll notice that England always has to go above and beyond to be extra. It can’t just be an egg and avocado sandwich; let’s add chili sauce! It can’t just be hummus and carrots; it needs pickles! They always gotta add that one ingredient to get me to be 95% on the point of not taking it to the cash register. But somehow I always do…
So right, I stink. I’m on the Eurostar to Paris because my time in London is complete. I am so happy I went to London, even if it meant going alone. I know many people are hesitant about solo travel because they’re afraid they’ll be lonely. Honestly, you might be, but I’d rather be a little lonely than never doing anything I want to do because I don’t have anyone to do it with. I just hope you feel the same.
Let me talk about all the people I met over the last few days – so many good people, including many of you on the streets of London. There was the girl who nearly dropped the weight rack at the YMCA. The girl who got on the wrong bus just to say hey. The girl who almost scared me to death at the Tate Modern when I was trying to understand a few scratches on a black painting. The girl in the Whole Foods stairwell. The guy at 26 Grains. The group of Brazilians at Heaven nightclub.
And then there was last night. Not a subscriber, although he played enough YouTube videos out loud from his laptop that I might as well have asked him to subscribe. I was sitting in the hostel lounge minding my own business, somewhat writing this blog, mostly eating rice, edamame, and teriyaki tofu, when an odd character blurts out,
Anyone want Chinese candies?
- No, no, but thank you.
I continue working. One minute later,
Where’d you get that?
- Whole Foods.
I say, tofu hanging out of my mouth.
- Whole Foods is a grocery store. It’s the only thing open till 10:30pm and healthy.
- A supermarket.
A Chinese man across from this man, who also had a thick Chinese accent, starts speaking Chinese to him.
I don’t speak Chinese.
He opens his laptop and starts being that guy. It’s always gotta be someone. Like right now I’m that guy. Last night it was him. He starts playing extended bizarre videos out loud, and laughs. He stops the video.
- American – I live in Los Angeles.
Oh I’m from Pasadena.
Ten minutes go by.
You’re from LA right?
At this point I was just accepting the conversation and I was curious to see what kind of conversation this could lead to. He continues the convo,
Why is everyone in Los Angeles obsessed with the Kardashians?
- I don’t think that’s unique to Los Angeles!
What do you think of the fact that she bought Jackie Kennedy’s watch for $380,000?
- I guess she can do what she wants with her money.
Crazy! The whole family is stupid! Ridiculous! Don’t know why anyone would watch them.
I decide it’s time to head to bed. I drift to sleep, only to be woken up by a blaring fire alarm at 1am. At first I thought it was my alarm clock and I felt so bad that I’d let it ring for so long; I can truly sleep through anything.
We leave the room and head downstairs. Everyone’s confused.
People are upset. Understandably. It’s really not the time for a false alarm 1) cuz it’s 1am, and 2) everyone’s already on edge, after the unfortunate accident at the Grenfell Tower in London, only a few blocks away from the hostel.
Being in a city after a major incident is powerful. Don’t know if you’ve ever experienced it, but it’s like there’s this feeling of unspoken unity surrounding you. It’s when you realize there’s more to the human connection than just being around and putting up with each other all the time.
You log onto AirBNB London and there’s an option to offer your place for the victims. Two teens in a coffee shop off Portobello Road wore shirts with a heart and Grenfell in the middle and people in the coffee shop asked where they could buy them.
So, even if I’m currently stinking up the Eurostar, or everyone in the hostel lobby is being pestered/oddly entertained by a Chinese-American man, or everyone waking up at 1am for a fire alarm drill, or everyone following people we’re inspired by, at the end of the day, we’re all just people, living day to day, and we’re all in this together.
Smelly or not.