How exactly does one sum up a trip? Okay. Clarification. Not trip -- vacation. My first true vacation in three years. Just me and my hubby. Likely the last one of it’s kind for a while as the pod (baby), now affectionately called Blue, will make his debut at the end of July.
We hadn’t even left for London (our vacation destination) when I got the ever lovely and encouraging news that I had a total Golden Hearts fail. After a minor meltdown and threats of throwing in the towel with writing all together, I managed to get myself under control enough to pack.
After an all night flight, wandering through a HUGE airport (where it is small marathon to get from the gate to customs; let alone baggage claim); a trip on the London underground with luggage and a three block walk to the hotel; I remembered what drunk felt like even though it’s been 10 years since I had a drink.
SIDE BAR: I don’t know if this happened to you when you were growing up, but: My parents had friends who were world travelers and they loved to take pictures of where they went. Rather, they loved to take slides (for those of you too young to know what a slide is -- NOT the ones on the playground -- go look it up on wikipedia while I take pain medication for my sciatica -- oi!). Anyway, my family, who didn’t travel, was always “treated” to an evening of travel slides with the travelers commentary.
To prevent you from having to walk through my vacation and politely laugh at my antidotes, I will sum up:
Star sighting: we saw Cillian Murphy waiting in the “fast track” lane in customs. Don’t know who Cillian Murhpy is? Go to IMDB.
Words that seemed to come up a lot -- even in advertisements: Darling - euphemism for EVERYONE, but especially women and children. Proper - we even bought dog biscuits that tell us they are “proper dog biscuits.” Apparently Milk Bones are just too vulgar.
I realized that we, in the states, really are a nation of SUPER SIZE. Now, I live in an expensive city, where you pay a ridiculous amount of money for not a lot of space. I’ve also spent some time in New York, where you get even less space for even more money. I knew going to London that hotel rooms were tiny. EVERY freakin’ blog tells you so. However, nothing could prepare me for the elevator, our room or the shower. Again to save you from every detail, I will say that at one point, I had to have my husband come in the closet... er ... bathroom... and pick up the soap I dropped in the shower because I couldn’t bend over to get it. Oh, and the bathroom sink was about the size of the average american dinner plate. Even the produce was smaller.
While we’re on the subject of food... Coke was in a weird label and the bottle shape was strange -- more cylindrical that our hour glass shape. The candy, though it was the same Twix, Snickers and Hershey’s as here, ALL had different packaging as to be almost unrecognizable -- though a jonesing pregnant woman can always find what she needs ... unless it’s Benedryl in the pharmacy in London... but that’s a whole different story for another time.
If you have to go potty in London, you better know how to hover over a toilet because A LOT of the public restrooms don’t have toilet seats. Also, they don’t believe in paper towels ... at all. Only air blowers to dry the mitts.
I keep getting told that I would have to go to the countryside to experience the famous English politeness, which must be true. All I can say is that London was no different than any American city I’ve been in. People are pushy, self-serving and generally in a hurry. The only difference is that when someone bumps you in San Francisco, they don’t apologize or mumble anything to you; they just keep on walking. In London, they mutter unenthusiastically that they are sorry, but they don’t make eye contact and often times you miss the apology ‘cause they are already walking away.
We did have to ask seven different employees, from seven different shops, not including two security officers and a ticket agent, where the Paddington Bear kiosk was in Paddington Station.
The best moment hands down though, was finding that Londoners can watch an hour of Judge Judy every morning from 8am - 9am. Now, I hate to admit that Judge Judy is my secret little television vice -- we all have one, I’m just admitting to mine -- so I was thrilled to find Judge Judy in a foreign land. Then, I realized that THIS was one of the shows that represented the US to the UK. I was torn between amused and sad.
One of the biggest reason that we chose London was the history. I felt that I could glean a decent story out of the place. At the very least, some sort of idea for a character or an essence for a place. I was getting really bummed when, by our last day, I just had sore feet from walking, a bad back from the extra firm bed in our hotel and a really bad cold I caught from my husband. All that and no inspiration. The hubby, as a painter, really wanted to go to the Tate Modern and he’d been nice enough to indulge all my London fantasies, so we went to the Tate. Modern art is hard for me. Often times I just don’t get it and that only serves to frustrate me and make me feel inadequate in some way. It doesn’t help that everyone in my life have been artists and I feel obliged to at least act like I get it. Anyway, wandering through the halls of work, I stumbled upon a series of painting that sledgehammered my brain and gave me hope that story ideas weren’t totally lost in the nether-sphere of writers block. Who would have thought, I a center of epic world history, I find inspiration in the modern art museum. Typical.
So, as a writer, the trip wasn’t a total wash. As a wife and soon to be mother, the trip was a good break from reality - though I could do without the lingering cold and cough. Now, I have to channel that energy into something worth mentioning... like another story ... maybe one that won’t be a contest fail or added to my wall of rejection shame.