Monday, May 30, 2011

Leaving London

Izzi just phoned me and it was so wonderful to hear her voice (and Timmy's in the background). It reminded me that I am way, way overdue for a blog update! I shall now attempt to summarize the past two weeks of parties, goodbyes, tears, and new friends. Actually, I think I'll break it into two parts: Leaving, and Arriving.

So. Two Thursdays ago, I packed up most of my worldly possessions (the ones in the UK, anyway), loaded them into a minicab, and took them to south London to my coworker, Corrado's, flat. Corrado and his girlfriend and 2-year-old daughter are/were also moving up to Edinburgh, and offered to let me share their delivery van. So my stuff moved up to Scotland a week ahead of me. I had my "leaving London" goodbye drinks the next day. Lots of wonderful people came, and I had a really nice time. Alex N. gave me a beer pong kit, Maggie bought me two shots (not sure how grateful I am for that), and Izzi tried to throw me in a planter. I did deserve it, though, as I had threatened to replace her and Tim with Corrado and his girlfriend. After everyone headed home, Tisobel and I stayed at the bar for a bottle of prosecco. I can't remember if anything even set me off, but I started crying right there at the bar, surrounded by strangers. But then I pulled myself together and we danced like loons, then "walked," or rather, lurched and meandered back to their flat. Work the next morning was slightly painful, but alas, it was worth it.

Anna and Mel at going-away drinks

I had the day off on Monday, so managed to have lunch with Maggie, tea with Holly, tea with Anna, and then rush off to dinner with Tisobel. Izzi wasn't feeling well but she made me dinner anyway because she loves me that much. Maggie works for a Member of Parliament, so lunch was in the cafeteria at the Houses of Parliament. AWESOME! That means that I got to take a long last look at Big Ben before leaving London. Then, as I was leaving Tisobel's after dinner, I heard a clock chiming. I asked where it was coming from, and they said it was Big Ben! In all the times I've been to their flat, I've never heard Big Ben chiming. He was putting on a special show for my last week, clearly.

On Tuesday, I hung out with James. We went to a weird but cool vegan buffet restaurant in Soho. He gave me a booklet of poems about London just in case I miss the city. Wednesday was my last day at work, so I had after-work drinks with a few girls. Alex N. came along as well, and Carina's friend, Tom. Tom gave me contact details for a friend of his in Edinburgh so that I could contact her if I got lonely.

Thursday was my last day in London. I went to work to say a goodbye to Anna (and also see if there was anything good in the sale), then had to rush back home to check out of my room and get my deposit back. This took longer than I thought, as I had to peel a large sticker off my wall which didn't end up coming off, so I had to go tell my landlady that I'd ruined the paint job. She was very stern, and then took £5 off my deposit for it. She also waived some of the rent that I still owed her. What a sweetheart! Then I rushed off for dinner with my bessies (minus Tisobel cuz Timmy was sick, and minus Tanya and Alex, who are out of the country): Carina, Holly, and Aparna.

Carina likes affection even less than I do

After dinner, I wanted to drop by Tisobel's for one last "see you later," but Tim was heading to bed. I decided to be completely selfish and go anyway. I parted with the girls, lastly Holly, which was a bit hard. When we walked away from each other, she had the most melancholy look on her face, it broke my heart. It still makes me tear up to think about it. She looked like a puppy I had just told to go away and leave me alone.

Ugh, this is really hard. Okay, pull yourself together.

I got on the bus to go to Tim and Izzi's. On the way there, I realized that maybe Izzi was going to bed as well, and maybe their light would be out when I got there. I imagined myself just leaving their gift on the doorstep and slinking away into the night, broken-hearted. Then I started to cry on the bus. As I walked toward their flat, swallowing tears, a man further up the sidewalk was singing opera. It was so beautiful and poignant, London showing me the best she could offer. And then I was approaching the flat, and the light was still on, and Izzi answered the door and I was so happy, I forgot I'd been on the verge of tears moments before. We had a lovely cup of tea while sick Timmy slept, and then I said good night and left.

Sad Izzi

I was fine as we parted, but as I walked away, I started crying again. I choked back tears all the way back to Leytonstone, but then the fresh air must have cured me because I felt better as I walked home. Aparna was up waiting for me. She's such a treasure. I feel like a cheesy weirdo for using that word, but I can't think of another to describe her. She has been so good to me these past few months, offering me a home, making me dinners, giving me advice, throwing me a surprise birthday dinner. She even woke up at 5am to see me off. She's the best flatmate I could ever hope for and I love her dearly.

Best flatmate ever (plus Carina giving bunny ears)

If I didn't feel so good about being in Edinburgh, if I didn't feel like it was the right thing for me right now, I never would have survived leaving these wonderful people. I also know I will be back soon for visits! I plan to see Carina in Switzerland for her birthday, Holly's family has a cricket match on the farm in July, and I've promised everyone that I'll bring Becky and John down to London when they visit me this summer. Yay!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


I met the woman who will be my new store manager the other day. She is super nice and has high standards and lots of pet peeves, so I'm really excited about working with her. I still don't have a leaving date, or a flat, but time is running out so I really need to nail down some details.

Yesterday, I met up with Holly and tried out the "Boris Bikes" for the first time. Boris Johnson is the crazy, wild-haired Mayor of London. He's a cycling enthusiast and brought a rent-a-bike scheme to London last summer. It's pretty cool. You pay £1 for 24 hours of access (or you can buy an annual membership for, I think, £50), then every half hour is free. If you just dock your bike every 30 min and take out a new one, you never pay more than the £1 day-fee. The bikes are a bit heavy and only have 3 speeds, but they're a pretty good ride. In the evening, Izzi and Tim fed me roast chicken and baked potato. Yum!

Yesterday's big news was the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden by US Navy Seals. I feel like so much surrounding this news is unknown. They've apparently confirmed it was him by DNA testing, but where did the US get a past sample of bin Laden's DNA? And of course it remains to be seen how people will react to the news, though it doesn't sound like there's been a huge backlash just yet, so that's good. I'm glad Pakistan has so far reacted well to the news.

I had to work on the day of the Royal Wedding, but we all huddled around the laptop behind the tills and gave each other updates throughout the day. During my lunch break, I headed down the road to a place where there was a giant TV screen broadcasting live footage. I was just in time for the balcony kiss, which I have to say, was pretty anticlimactic. But then there was the Royal Air Force flyover, and the planes flew over us in the square about 10 seconds after flying over the palace, so that was pretty exciting. Everyone cheered. I think if I ever get married, I'll have to have a flyover, because it feels like nothing is really official until some fighter jets have flown over your head.