I am back Stateside, as you’ve probably gathered. It’s seven in the morning and I woke up three or four times after midnight, so I’ve given up and decided to stay awake. My parents are asleep in the other hotel bed, possibly forever. At least until eleven, because we’re checking out by noon. When is the complementary hotel breakfast? I do not know.
So, how was it? It was good. We took buses in addition to the Tube, so we got to see parts of London we wouldn’t necessarily. Mom and I had to stop walking and wait for Dad constantly, because he can’t handle walking and taking photos at the same time. He also can’t handle British food, or Indian, or health food, or anything not an American hamburger, and we ate at two bona-fide “American” diner-style eateries in two days. Mom cried at Les Mis, at the idea of Susan Boyle, at every part of Westminster Abbey, seemingly everywhere. Dad started quoting the public transit announcements issued on the Tube and buses, because he thinks it’s funny: “Fifteen –– to –– Blackwall,” he might say, or “Mind… the gap,” or (his favorite) “Twenty-three –– to! –– Marble Arch.” Fortunately, and perhaps weirdly, he hasn’t tried putting on a British accent; he just affects the speech patterns of the automated voice. Mom and I suspect that this affectation will become the “Let me show you a magic trick, you see this pencil?” of Summer 2010.
And me, well, I was in London, so what can I say? It was all the same, except for the things that have changed, and doesn’t feel like home anymore. At first this really bothered me, but by the end that all dropped away and everything felt nicely familiar. It makes sense that London wouldn’t feel the same; it’s not my home, and I’m a different person. I could take that as opportunity to get all depressed and cranky (which I did) or I could not (which I also did, later). I took my parents to the Changing of the Guard, not because I was particularly interested but I knew they wanted to, and then the royal band, awesomely, played the theme to Magnum P.I., as well as the song Heath Ledger sings in 10 Things I Hate About You, the one that goes, “Let me love you, baby, let me looooooooove yoooooooooooooou!” The little boy next to me asked his mom what the soldiers did and when she said, in exasperation, “They protect the queen, Alexander,” he said, “Where’s Guy Fawkes? Where’s Guy Fawkes?” And the American behind me told his girlfriend that he knew he should be reverential here, or whatever, but seeing the guards in formation just makes him think what it would have been like to fight the Redcoats.