Cheers from sunny (it's actually pretty overcast and rainy here most of the time) London. That's right, London, UK. I've been here for eight days and just over 20 hours. I'm staying in a beautiful little flat that's not really that small -- not when it's just little old me living here -- facing the river Thames, and Greenwich (yes, THAT Greenwich, that of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time) right across the river. Greenwich is a lovely place, and if I look out my southeastern most window I can just see the square where the foot tunnel comes out and the touristy downtown starts. It's gorgeous when the sun sets and reflects orange from the sky and the water onto what I think is the Old Royal Naval College but actually have no idea as of yet. Pictures to follow someday, I hope.
There are fun things here, like wee little cars and a store called ASDA that's owed by WalMart (and you can tell just as soon as you step through the doors) and people who -- amusingly, at least to me -- only dress in black or grey or brown or tan paired with muted pastels, the only color in their wardrobes showing in the form of a handful of red jackets. I must stick out with my yellow and orange and green skirts and bright blue rain jacket that I wear every day because you never know when (not if) the skies will open up for a little sprinkle. There are red double decker buses and red phone boxes and red over- and under-ground trains and lush, spilling gardens wherever people can find the space; I've seen residents of some places with two or three square feet of green space on their property squeeze in half a dozen different flowers and plants, just because they can.
There are hard things here as well: living alone is the biggest one so far. I work at least 10 hour days and sometimes have dinner or drinks after work, I spend the large majority of my day surrounded by at least a handful of people; at times I've been around 20 at once. I have exactly five contacts in my little not-phone I use for the time being, and I can contact and talk to any of those five people whenever I want. I can also call back to the States whenever I want -- free on my end, probably not so much Stateside. None of that, however, changes the fact that when I do finally come back to my flat at the end of the day, I come back alone, and change my clothes and brush my teeth alone, and -- ultimately -- crawl into bed alone. I can surround myself with other people for 16 or even 20 hours out of my day, but when I come back home to sleep, as I must eventually, I come back by myself. And that, so far, is the worst and hardest part.
Of course there are the daily reminders of what I left behind: the bicyclists, the cars, the machinery at different construction sites, people walking their dogs, men in work boots and yellow vests, any man over 6ft tall, and of course -- of course -- my daily challenge: Her lookalike. Could be Her twin, I suppose, were they not born 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers, may it do ya) apart. And what did I do, what did I really do that I haven't paid for already, to have to sit across from her every day for 10 hours?
So those are the hard things. And the fun things. All a part of making this life feel alive. Because what is life without its ups and downs?
Here is a fun fact that I didn't know before moving here: The Thames, at least parts of it, has a tide. I happen to live on one of those sections. Took me two full days to notice, but notice I eventually did, and there you go, the more you know. It doesn't look wide enough to have a tide, not really, but maybe that doesn't matter. What do I know about tides, after all?