(Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. 1/12/19)
I arrived in London somewhat aloof. I wasn’t even sure what to expect. Jonesy had given me a bag filled with TODOs. My friend is all about planning. I kinda wanna relax. It’s my birthday, I’ll do what I will. Between these two, I could be exhausted. I was gonna relax dammit. I wasn’t sure how this city would receive me. Would I fall in love with London? Would London fall in love with me?
I barely relaxed. I didn’t want to relax.
Tate Britain showed me pieces that warmed my heart. I gasped at art, architecture and culture that I longed for. I stared at life I had only dreamed of as a child.
Chasing dreams under the sweet sop tree with pen and paper when I was nine in Jamaica. Dreaming and writing about a better tomorrow, a better me. I used to hide pain in pentameters and verses. I wrote dreams in alliterations and rhymes. Searching desperately for a peace that for a young child in Jamaica, would never come. Peace that could warm my soul. But Art and music provided temporary relief. Make me feel loved. Alive. A trance. Removed from reality as my body moves to the beat of a rhythm or three. Reggae. Hip hop. Techno or Calypso.
I pulled the bartender from behind the counter. He had been eyeing me and waving all night. Cute smile. Not exactly my type. Light skin. Short Afro but a dance needs no type. I moved against him to Alicia Keys and Jay Zs New York and he moved like an American. Just like one of my old college crush who knew how to move as I move. He held my body in every place I like to be held while dancing. The DJ played New York because he thought I was cute and I was from New York. Londoners seemed to think the capitol of USA is New York. I said I was from the Capitol. I sang as I danced and moved.
“..,still sippin’ Mai Tai’s. Sittin’ courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high five. Nigga I be Spike’d out, I could trip a referee. Tell by my attitude that I’m most definitely from…” by the time Alicia hit the chorus, I might as well be the only person on that make shift dance floor. I was in full song mode. The DJ turned the music down at intervals to hear the crowd and I rocked out – “In New York, Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothin’ you can’t do. Now you’re in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.”
I was killing it and forgetting I wasn’t wearing my knee brace. The tequila shots and the free drinks from men who loved my smile kicked in and made me feel no pain. For one song I was lost. I showed this man I had moves. Moves I learned and never lost when I dance competitively in my teen years. Moves that I picked up in college. After college. In the club. On vacation. I had moves I had even forgotten I had. I got lost with this man. And then it ended. I looked up to gaze in his eyes and he told me I was beautiful with sweat pebbles on my nose, asked for my number and I remembered Jonesy gave me another TODO for Amy Winehouse. I didn’t want his number. I walked away from Emmanuel the bartender and took selfies with more cute strangers.
London fell in love with me too. It asked me questions. Wanted to know why I looked so young. Positive energy. Always positive energy.
I fell asleep in the relaxation room after my massage at the Bulgari spa. Slept through lunch and finished with a facial. I saw the Roman Baths, Hampton Court Palace and Stonehenge. I had fish and chips for lunch at a Pub in Lacock. Visited the cotswolds and played with an unusually friendly cat as I passed the haunted house.
I walked into an awful bar with horrible drinks and saw a couple sucking face in Shoreditch. I smiled, took a selfie with the cabana brown girl statue and went to the Ned Hotel to have the best quality beef I had ever tasted grinded into a burger. However, not before the chef made me sign something that said he’s not liable for the lactose in the goat cheese because I said goat cheese lactose was kinder to me when I switched from cheddar. Wait, the steak at the Potluck Club in Woodstock, South Africa was much better.
I was in the middle of an argument in Brixton. Jamaicans argued over who was next in line. I saw bean cakes paired with jerk chicken and got intrigued. Muslims. Rastafarians. Eritreans. I saw culture after culture after culture. I saw stolen Indian Jewels mixed in with the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. So I stole a photo or two until I was caught and asked to not take photos. I chuckled because I had already taken four unforbidden photos.
I had never seen that much history in one place and that much culture intertwined. But I was visiting. I barely knew the reality of London. I was told that Londoners don’t make much. To be so close to royalty and so far from parity has to be torture.
Oh the architecture.
Westminister Abbey, Tower of London, Parliament, Trafalgar Square. Buckingham Palace. London Tower Bridge. The museum of Natural History. I was in awe of the architecture.
I walked and walked and walked and walked. From Tower Bridge to London Bridge. From Misha’s house to Victoria station. From St. James station to Misha’s. From Lorne to Victoria palace. Where I watched a black GW in Hamilton. I walked. London made me walk. London was good to me. London loved me. I lost more weight in London.
I saw so much more, I forgot some of the uncaptured moments.
I met my cousin. Her crazy friends. Misha’s cousin.
Lots of firsts.
I saw part of London through Jonesy’s eyes. I know he copied and pasted but I’ll let it slide. I’ll let him think I believe he did it for me lol. It’s cool. It’s the thought that counts. Jonesy, my new friend. My new rose garden from
Hampton Court Palace. The promise of blossom that may or may not bloom. The kind you want to water anyway because it doesn’t matter since no matter what, you know friendship is forever. And while the thorns will still stick your fingers, the tree itself will paint a great picture. Bloom or no bloom Jonesy would be.
And on my last day as I rode on the top deck of the double decker into Brixton, I gazed as the city disappeared behind me. Dreaming about where my next trip would be. Brazil maybe. Definitely a solo trip afoot. It has been a while. It’s time to go on a think trip. My friend tapped me as I came back to reality and go downstairs to exit …
London did fall in love with me and I fell in love with the London I see.