Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 6, 1999

I was thinking about the first time I left the U.S. on August 6, 1999. In my mid-20's, London-bound and alone, I thought I was so avant-garde back then. Ha! 

Date: August 19, 1999
Subject: Where I was on the 19th of August, and the events that led up to then...
Perhaps I am boring some of you to tears with my adventures...
Too bad.
Just kidding! :) Umm - picking up where I left off... Last night in York, I went on a Ghost Tour. It was more of a walking comedy hour. Our guide was not as informative as I had hoped, but what he lacked in historical fact, he made up for in humor. In fact, the tour ended with about 75 people sticking out their tongues at the diners in a posh little Italian joint. Quite a long story really. Perhaps you had to be there.
This next bit is related, and purely coincidental. I hope you all know me to be of sound mind and body... or sound mind anyway... right? What I am about to say is completely true, and I am as skeptical as you...
I'm sitting in the cafeteria of the York Youth Hostel, the hostel I was at last night (which I would not recommend, by the way). Anyway, I’m painting my fingernails and in there by myself, though occasionally people are walking through. The doors in this building all are in desperate need of WD40, so as one squeaks, I glance up to see who is coming through. Now there are two doors in the room; one behind me that leads to some of the bedrooms, the other is to my left, about 20 feet. It leads to the kitchen, which is closed, and marked "Staff only."
The latter is the door that is opening and closing by itself. The door opens once, and I look up, hearing the squeak. No one there. No draft in the room, in fact, no windows are even open. No one else even around. Just me. Alright - I thought someone that works at the hostel is crouching below the glass window, on the other side of the door, trying to spook me as a prank. So I just watched it. Then it closed, more rapidly than it had opened. A few minutes later, it opened again, this time, half way slowly, then it stopped, then opened the rest of the way. OK? Freaky? I'm just staring at the thing.... saying to myself, "There must be some logical explanation."
Then it closed, as it had before. With a clap, but not quite a slam. And this continued to happen periodically over about the next 10 minutes. Then some other people came into the cafeteria with dinner they had brought, and the door didn't open again for the rest of the time I was in there.... maybe 45 minutes.
I'm not making any speculations... I'm just saying it was freaky. I can't explain it.
Moving on from whatever that was, this morning I saw the York Minster. Ooooh la la! This place is very impressive. You cannot believe the details of that place, nor the size, unless you've seen it in person. I am fortunate to have a well-travelled step-mom, to give me the up-and-up on things to see. She advised me not to miss the foundations of the Minster. Quite right she was! As if the marvel of the cathedral was not enough, buried below it, and below the crypt, they have discovered an older, Norman cathedral. And below that, a Roman road and Hall from about the time of Christ. It was crazy what they found down there!
After the Minster, I hopped (not really) back to the hostel, grabbed my things, and hit the cobblestones to catch a train back to London. I checked into Holland House a night early. There is so much more I want to see here.
I showered (much needed), and went to Harrod's. Kris was right again, of course. The food displays on the lower level were very.... fancy. What's the word I'm looking for?
Anyway, I went looking for a swanky sorta top to impress Eddie Izzard on Saturday. :) Nada. Actually, I found a nice blazer that cost £379. The place is huge though. Worth a gander, but I couldn't see myself ever making any Harrod's purchases. Though, I keep seeing these chicks running around in really slick Euro-clothing! Neat vintage-looking skirts and tops. Now I know both where they got them, and how much they spent!
Well, seven o'clock and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I headed to Leicester Square, then Piccadilly Circus to see what looked fun. (Those, and Trafalgar Square, are the hip places to be around here.) I had passed a sign in Piccadilly during my first few days, outside the Criterion Theatre, advertising a play called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged. Reportedly 37 plays in 97 minutes by a trio calling themselves The Reduced Shakespeare Company. It looked entertaining. Well, whatta-ya-know, 1/2 hour before the 8pm showtime I got 5th row concession (student discount) seats for £10. My kinda deal. It was, as advertised, freaking hilarious! These guys were fruit loops, I'm telling you. I was cracking up.
Seated next to me was a guy named Warren from Milwaukee. He just arrived this morning and he’s here for one year to study. (Yes, I'm quite green.) Anyway, we chatted. He was nice. We went out for a few beverages after the show.
And here I am. Back at Holland House. It's quarter to 12, and I will be heading to bed now. Tomorrow I'd like to catch the changing of the guards, then I'm meeting Warren at The London Dungeon.

I added up the time I've spent in foreign lands since then, just for curiosity's sake: three years and one week.
Ten years, twelve countries, twenty-three journeys, hundreds of new friends (single-serving and lifelong), and uncountable memories.
Not a bad start.

Still, the List is longer.

(all of) yours,