There a few things I learned since February 26:
Touring is a Game of Twister
I wonder why guys in my teenage years never recommended a game of Twister. You know, the friendly contortunist’s game. Spin. Left foot on Red. Right hand all the way on the other side on orange. You = pretzel. Me = flexible. I’m not thinking this when I gallop to the ticket counter at Douglas airport to be told my airline ticket had been canceled. Stay calm, Kim. Move over, lady who has stock in the company. Nice Lady approaches, diaster averted. My suitcase is 80 lbs over. Stay calm, Kim. Nice Lady gives me an extra box, and pretends not to notice my suitcase is still 30 lbs over. I love Nice Lady. Maybe, this experience has set the tone for this trip. I can do a backbend on my Twister board, if I want! Nothing, and I mean nothing, will stop me from singing “A Foggy Day in London Town.”
Hope is like a 7-11 Big Gulp
When I was little, if you ordered a coke you paid for it. If your cup was refilled three times, than you were shelling out greenbacks for each and every cup. Mama was mad when the bill came! Then the universe tilted, and you drink magically became bottleless. I’d like to blame 7-11 for this–and for worldwide obesity. Soft drinks aren’t my chosen form of poison, I favor ice cream and potato chips (called “crisps” in London), I understand it’s hard to have just one. I’m on this really big plane, by myself. I’m literally watching the sun walk across the sky. The plane lands, and now this tour thing is real. I’m noticing that “plane” and “plan” are only removed by one measly letter. Passport is stamped, luggage reclaimed. I exchange money pretending I understand how £s can be so darn flimsy and the coin. Why the heck do you need one pense, two pense, five pense (I could go on and on.)? Nat, my UK management, orders me to call her when I’m ready to board my train to meet her. I pull Dexter, that’s what I’ve named my suitcase that weighs a whooping 130 lbs, over to the phone and reset the broken bone in my arm. There are two different types of phones. Pick up one, it’s dead. Dexter and I walk over to the next. Alive, dial. Operator comes on and says, “American dummy, you can’t use this phone.” Dexter, my suitcase, tells me to go ask an eldery white man with a phat gold chain and 5 diamond studs in his left ear. No kidding. The man looks at me crazy, and says put money in and dial. Dexter tells me it’s not polite to mention to the man that 5 diamond earrings are a bit more absurd than my question. I go back to the phone and hear Nat’s voice.
“I’m here,” I say with relief.
“That was fast. I’ll be right there,” Nat replies.
Dexter know what I’m thinking. Thank God, for Big Gulps.
Cheddar Cheese in NOT Supposed to be Orange
“Um, I need an overground train to Clap– Clapham Junction, please.”
“Let ‘em help you over there at the ticket counter, Miss.”
Pardon my stereotype, but Brits are more laidback than New Yorkers yet not quite as personable as Southerners at first glance. They warm-up slow, kinda like a ’78 Lincoln. Maybe a sputter here and there, but when they get going they are solid, witty, and geninunely interested. A Brit saw me and Dexter in a struggle to get up the steps. He laid his paper on the step and took one end of Dexter. Up the stairs we went. I thought to myself, an American man would have tried to pick this up by himself.
A British man says, “We’re in this together, love.”
Soon, I’m at the rendevous point waiting on Nat. Okay her…nope. That’s her…guess not. There, there she is. Nat’s much more petite and girlish than I expected. She’s a brunette now. We embrace and step back to inspect one another more closely. I introduced Nat to Dexter, my suitcase, they became fast friends! In fact, Dexter was making friends…and enemies all over the place in London. Nat’s gonna become one of my favorite Brits. To be far, Nat is part-Israel, part-Brit and post-traveling gypsy. Nat and Dexter literally tumble into the train. I dissolve into hearty American laughter. Note to self: Brits DO NOT laugh as loud as Americans. I don’t care, hand on hip. We’re off. Nat and I stop at the market.
“You want milk?”
“Uh huh.” I hide my latose intolerance.
“It’s white. The cheese is white.”
“In America, it’s orange. I mean, we have white, but it’s orange.”
Can I tell you that British, medium cheddar is a personal gift from God. You don’t need salt when it’s added to a meal. Cheese is kinda my totem; my symbol on this journey. This foreign cheese brings me joy, like me fully embracing my life. I’ll sing–for Twister, for a Big Gulf and definitely for some Brit-issued cheddar.