The holidays were great-but like for many, frustrating as well. It was great to go back to NC and see my father and catch up with old friends. But, as much as I enjoyed being back in the US, a part of me (likely b/c Simon stayed in London) missed the UK. What gives? I just can't win: When in the UK, I find myself missing the US. When in the US, I find myself missing the UK. yeesh...I'm beginning to feel a bit like a homeless person as a result. Is the grass always going to be greener on the other side of the border?
Aside from the above, there were a few other things that caught my attention that I can tell are indicative of my time away out of the US: personal space and impatience with driving. Normally, while walking around London-on the streets, in the tube, in shops, restaurants..whatever, it's not uncommon to have your personal space invaded with such a frequency that you become oblivious to it happening most of the time. So, I was struck by the frequency with which people said, 'excuse me' while I was out & about in NC-and frequently, folks were a good 5-feet-plus away when saying this. The first time it happened, I thought she was just being overly polite, and the pardon was a bit extreme. After it happened about 4 more times that same day, I came to realize that it was my 'judgement' that must be off. My concept of when to say 'excuse me,' has apparently shrunk to a space of about 18 inches! :) And looking back, I guess I must have semed like an arse when coming so close to people and not saying 'excuse me!'
The other thing I noticed was how impatient I've become when driving. Don't get me wrong-I haven't been a patient driver for years, and when I was last in Seattle (in July), thought my over-impatience was a one-off response. Apparently not. After just 2 days behind the wheel in NC, I realized (again...) this new reaction from me isn't necessarily due to other drivers (though seriously: get the F off your cell phone while driving!...), but is due to my being 'out of practice' with driving and dealing with my impatience. This is particularly disconcerting, as the reality is I'll only continue to become worse at this as I continue to live outside of the US & drive with ever-increasing infrequency. I'm going to have to come up with a way to cope with this one. Suggestions welcome!
Anyhoo..after being in the US for 7 days, it was back to London on the 31st. Yes-31st. Via a red-eye flight. Poor planning on my part... :)
NYE was spent eating delicious Mexican food at my friend, Justyn's house. From there, we were supposed to head down to the Thames to view the fireworks from someone's rooftop. But, being the jet-lagged traveler that I was, at 10p, I had to bow out. I didn't think I would last until midnight-muchless the 2am or so it would be before we returned home. So, Simon & I spent the rest of 2009 on the couch watching a Jools Holland program (awesome!), and counting down the minutes. A few minutes before midnight, we switched the TV over to the BBC to catch the fireworks, popped a cork on the champagne, and opened the door to our flat. Though it was cold outside, we're close enough to the Thames to hear the fireworks-mind you delayed, and muted. But, it was fun nonetheless! Personally, I can't believe I managed to last until midnight, but after the glass and a half of champagne, my time was limited-and by 1a, I was heading to bed.
2010 started off with one of my favorite hobbies: shopping! :) Simon & I decided to pop out & have a walk around, putter around a few shops, and run a few errands. The tourists were all heading home, so it was one of the least crowded days I think I've ever spend in London!
Fast forward to last nite (Saturday...). Simon & I decided to splurge a bit so we headed to The Bar-at The Dorchester Hotel for a few cocktails. We had just been there two weeks ago for our Christmas dinner (seriously one of the best meals of my life...), and Simon had become um, 'obsessed' with one of their cocktails-The Vespar. He wants to learn how to make it himself (which would be good. at 18 quid a pop, making it himself will save a small fortune...), so we decided to go to the bar early on Saturday so we'd be able to sit at the bar & chat up the bartender. What a bizarre evening it turned out to be...
After being there for about 30 minutes, another couple (I think. Still debating, to be honest...) sat down at the bar next to us. It was clear from the moment they sat down that they were regulars-greeted by all the bartenters, free cocktails coming their way, the whole treatment. After a while, the bartender sat a few shots down in front of them, and I inquired as to what they were. Note to self: don't start up conversations with dubious people in bars. Long story short, Simon & I chatted with them off & on over the next few hours, and as best as I can guess, the lady (considerably younger than the guy...) was a bit of a 'kept woman.' It wasn't the first conclusion I jumped to, mind you. Rather, it was bits & pieces of odd questions from them and a few comments that eventually had be believe this. I'll save all the boring details, but it's worth mention what the big tip-off was: After a while of chatting with them, the girl asked me if we were on our first date. We laughed & said, 'far from it.'...Odd question-or so it seemed. But, Simon was dressed quite nattily in his good suit, whereas I decided to go in jeans. So, between the location, the way we were dressed (which, Simon & I later discussed just screamed 'class differences'), and their 'setup', it was a logical conclusion that perhaps we had a similar arrangment! Different classes based on how we're dressed? I can see it, but honestly thought something like that would have faded with the 1950's. Crazy.