When I was eighteen, I took my first big trip without my parents, and before I left, my mother suggested that I pack a nice notebook to use as a journal. In my normal life, I’ve never been a journal-keeper, but I took her advice, and for roughly fifteen years now, every time I’ve taken a substantial trip, I’ve kept a record of my days. Sometimes I’m a real champ, and I’ll write down every detail: what I overheard in line at the museum, how much I paid for such-and-such, which subway station I was leaving when that handsome man smiled at me and my heinous pink-and-white polka dot umbrella, or, tragically, which subway line I was on when I forgot my heinous pink-and-white polka dot umbrella under the seat. Sometimes I’m less of a champ, and I’ll only write down what I ate. Sometimes I don’t write much at all, and instead I take pictures. I’m not sure how my mother feels, but I think that counts. I take a lot of pictures.
I want to thank you for your comments last week. I hope this doesn’t sound weird, or what the heck, it probably will, but: you made me feel so taken care of. Thank you for that. I’ve been thinking about what you wrote, and I’ve decided that I am going to Edinburgh. With a day trip into the Scottish countryside, too, unless the weather puts up a fight. But before that, I’m taking the train to Paris for a few days, because I had my heart set on it. And then, if I can work out the details, I’ll go visit my dad’s best friend Michael and his wife Becky, who now live in France. I only get to see them every few years, and I think of them all the time. When I was fourteen, or maybe I was sixteen, Michael gave me Adrienne Rich’s Diving into the Wreck, and it was the first book of poetry that I ever really loved. I wonder what he’ll introduce me to next. We’re overdue for a visit.
It hasn’t always come naturally to me, but I’m getting used to this seat-of-the-pants thing.
I’m very glad I came.
October 14 was my first full day in London, and I took the pictures in this post that day.
That morning, I walked along the Regent’s Canal, and in the sun, it was almost hot. I stopped for a ginger beer at Towpath, and not long after, I saw a barge called The Spirit of Marmalade, which made my year.
My friends who live in Edinburgh had booked tickets to come to London for the weekend, and they arrived in the early afternoon. We got lunch at Song Que and shared some spicy squid, and then, that night, we went for a celebratory dinner at St. John Bread and Wine.
I have a piece of advice to pass on: order a dozen madeleines.
My friend Brian has a stack of records leaning against the wall of his living room, and today, the one on top is called LONDON IS THE PLACE FOR ME. I don’t know what it sounds like, but I like it.