So I'm living in London for the second time. I'm sure that's going to be addressed in a future blog...
But I'm living in London for the second time. All I wanted was a pair of tall black boots. My friend Louise (who was almost my girlfriend when we met as exchange students in the south of France two years prior) who was from London suggested we hit the High Street. For those not in the know, that is a term the British use to describe the place with the most shopping-and affordable. I found the perfect boots with just the slightest bit of sheen and only the hint of a heal. I didn't like heals back then because I liked to walk and dance and usually had to do both in the same night when clubbing was involved.
We got ready to Coldplay that night. I know what you are thinking, but this was 2001 and Parachutes had only just come out. I had only just discovered them on French MTV while living in Paris just a couple weeks before, so when I found out Louise also knew who they were, it was like we shared a secret. They were that obscure back then. We played Don't Panic on repeat about 9,000 times (which is not much of an exaggeration since it is like 2 minutes long) while we were getting ready to hit the scene.
I am not really sure what happens to me when I have just one other person with me, but I become invincible, outgoing, and will talk to any stranger around. Alone, you'd never know I even knew how to use words. I keep my headphones in and stare at a book, the ground, or for the last decade or so my phone, practically growling if someone even bumps into me. I cringe if a human even tries to start small talk in a grocery line. Ugh, don't EVEN think I'm on your side as you bitch about the person in line ahead of us. But Louise was next to me, and suddenly I was in love with all humans and had plenty of room in my life for a zillion new friends. "Hey so where are YOU guys going tonight?" I probably asked-who knows? It's almost like I have split personality or something or I'm being possessed as I watch from outside my body as I effortlessly speak to a group of people our age on the Tube heading toward the center of London from North London.
"We're going to a party! You lasses should come with us!!" A few things: 1. There is probably no chance in hell they said lasses, but I am appealing to your desire to have a more authentic(ish) London experience as can be had from a blog. 2. There was a couple girls within the group 3. Hostel hadn't come out yet, so being an obnoxious American was still charming instead of a plot for a torturous abduction/murder movie.
So of course we jumped off at Picadilly Circus (that I only ever heard of from a Morrissey song) and followed a bunch of Brits our age to a random party.
Party it was-almost every room in this "flat" was filled with humans. There were rooms with just red lights, rooms with regular lights, rooms where people were smoking cigarettes, and rooms where they were smoking hash. It seemed okay, so we sat down with some folks who were smoking Chesterfields and lit up our own.
Parties are pretty much the same no matter what country you are in. Everyone is about the same age, having boring conversations, trying to find someone to go home with, drinking cheap alcohol, and in those days smoking cigarettes like it was 1932. By the time we decided to leave to head to the club, it was definitely approaching the single digits of the night. As a matter of fact, I think we only had a good two hours of clubbing before it was time to figure out the worst part of a party night: getting home.
In 2001, the subway system in London closed at 11pm. My British friends, like Louise, always jokingly said it was because if they kept the subway open longer, no one would ever make it to work because everyone would just drink themselves to death. I found this an amazing tale that I loved to believe-that a huge city like London had to have a sort of curfew to keep themselves from partying too much. Awesome-my kind of people. Drunks with the collective ambition to keep one another living normal lives outside of the cocaine sprinkled toilet backs found in all pubs, clubs, and parties in those days.
The subway still didn't open for another couple hours (at 6am or something like that), we spent all our money on gross veggie burgers at Burger King and drinks at the club, so what the fuck were we to do?
"Let's walk!" I said stupidly.
"Okay!" Replied Louise, stupidlier.
So we set out to walk. It didn't seem so crazy at first. I mean, walking in a city never seems crazy since it is pretty much a sidewalk forever.
Until it's crazy. Then it is so crazy, you can't believe you thought "I'll just walk". Who walks in a city at 3 in the morning?! Drunk girls who are idiots and don't
think about saving enough money for a cab. And we were wearing our new boots. Louise decided to go without socks, so when we decided our feet were so sore after the first hour of walking, she was only slightly concerned about walking the city streets of London barefoot. I'd never been so happy to wear socks in all my life.
By the time we got home, the sun was up, and the subways were in full swing. We sat in her living room, turned on the tv, had another beer, and smoked another cigarette. We were so wired from the walk, and the morning news was especially captivating with the politics of the day.
We eventually went to sleep. Louise called me a few days later to see what adventure we wanted to do the following weekend and that she had a foot fungus from our walk. The takeaway? Parties are all the same, and always always wear socks.