Friday, December 30, 2011

Down and out in Stratford

October 12, 2011
Stratford, London

As my surroundings in Paris had taken a somewhat Gone With the Wind-esque flavor, it seemed only fitting that my illusion of being in the deep south should spill over into real life.

In the movie, right after Scarlet O’Hara kills a northern soldier, she says, “I’ll think about that tomorrah.”

In real life, I had told myself this very thing about my return to London to gather the rest of my possessions. And now “tomorrah” was staring me in the face.

The last few days had been…eventful. Now, I was alone, lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling of the dingy apartment that less than a month prior I had thought would be my new home. I was due back in Paris the next day, but I could barely walk (thanks to a mysteriously sprained ankle), my luggage outweighed me, and this was only one corner of the jigsaw puzzle disguised as my life that I needed to sort out. What can I say? I had risked it all. What was it that my friend James had said while I was in Seattle? Something like: “Ah, your heart has been scooped out with a dull spoon and plopped on the table.” Yeah, that was about right. My heart was mush. But there was something else there, too. Lying in the dim light I let the weight of my situation settle around me. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry or wallow. From deep down one thought filtered above all the others:

I’m not going out like this.

I'm not leaving London on this note—I’m going to bury these memories and make new ones that will eclipse everything the last 10 months has brought.

I thought back on all my travels and the memories of the people I had met, what I had experienced and learned along the way. I had tucked these away in my mind and now began to retrieve them one by one like pulling out old boxes from an attic. But, instead of being dusty and grim, they were like bright, shiny, precious jewels. No matter how heavy my luggage is, how heavy my heart; these memories carry no weight.

As I took inventory of my life, I thought about my trip to San Francisco, the one I took a couple weeks before moving abroad over 3 ½ years ago. Right before I left, I had expressed my anxiety about not knowing what was ahead to my friend, Boogie, who I had met years earlier on a plane headed for Boston. He had shaken his head, raised his pint of beer towards me and said simply: “You’re the flame, darling…we’re the moths.”

The corners of my mouth curved slightly at this recollection.

Well, flame fucking ON! Helloooo, London...