Saturday, May 1, 2010

Unexpected Discoveries

I've now been in London for about 24 hours and it was only in the last fifteen minutes that it registered that this is a foreign country--this is not (yet) home. Perhaps this is because I've been here enough that the superficial differences are starting to seem familiar00the colour of the apartments (dark brown brick with white windows and frames), the double-decker buses, the taxis, the bright green and yellow vests of police and generally official-looking people.

But after dragging around two suitcases for about 45 minutes, up stairs, through crowds, stacked or side by side, and absolutely exhausting my pitiful arm strength (my trainer would be proud I survived!), I staggered on to the Oxford Tube and there it was. I was staring out, over a bridge, at the purple of lilacs and some kind of tree with pink flowers. I was too exhausted to do much but let me head loll against the window. We turn, and suddenly there's a monument of four raging horses, straining against the yoke that binds them to a chariot. Atop stands an angel holding a crown, unperturbed by the chaos that threatens to drag him forward. If he were not made of bronze, that is. A moment later, we turn again and there is a tiny park which the road winds around: inside, a huge, knobbly tree sheltering the statue of a man lost in thought. It's gone after only a moment, but those two images are enough to make this place infinitely strange. I remember that this England is a kind of fairy tale place, a Narnia. Not always, but sometimes.

And so I stare out the window, and I watch the city alternately race or drift by me: statues, flowers, people in tights, chavs, rockers, businessmen, taxis, tourists, libraries, streetlights. And now I feel excited. This is the good part.