Back Home Again (part one)

It took me three and a half years to make it back home. Back to London. There are lots of reasons, or excuses, as to why I never returned. Money was usually the biggest one – I don’t exactly make a killing and rent is half my salary. Another reason I didn’t want to go back to London was because I knew how much it would kill me to have to leave again. I waited so long, I thought the time would never come. I was basically hopeless, thinking that I may never see my friends again. But that’s why I put it off, because I was afraid of coming back again.

And there I was on the plane, halfway back from Heathrow to Newark. Totally miserable. How is it that you wait and wait and then in a blink of an eye it’s over? I was in London 11 days – 4 of which were for work – and I did most of what I set out to do. Yet when my friend asked if it was enough time, the only response I had was that it will never be enough time until it’s forever.

In the 11 day visit, in many ways I feel like I accomplished more than I have in the last 3+ years combined. It’s funny how my some people back home only pencil me in when it’s convenient for them, but my friends over in England all managed to work me into their schedule, even when I had such little room for flexibility. We were able to make it happen.

I took a red eye on a Friday night after work. Of course the sleep was sporadic and the comfort was minimal, but it didn’t matter – I was on my way. Planes are really getting stingy on space – last time I flew Virgin Atlantic, I’d never been more comfortable – this time, I felt like I was spilling into the center seat and aisle.

Anyway, I landed early morning Saturday and went straight to my friend Carman’s in Sunbury, just west of London, past Twickenham. The goal was to power through the jet lag – I didn’t want to waste any time sleeping. We ventured back central and began my journey with some traditional British fare – steak and ale pie with chips doused in vinegar and curry sauce. Oh, and of course I tried some of Carman’s fish and chips. I am still a bottomless pit over here. Then we wandered past the London eye and eventually towards Big Ben. Just before my arrival, a fierce storm Doris had come through, so we felt the wind after effects, which made me need the loo so many times, which is when I remembered you need to pay to pee in public restrooms in London! You would think the toilets would be lined with gold because of this.

After our touristy bit, we headed back to Carman’s – I was pretty smelly at this point and the lack of sleep was taking its toll. A brief cat nap on the tube, drool and all, helped temporarily, but a massive snooze back at the house really did the trick. So much for powering through – I’m too old for this!

Not wanting to waste the night just getting a takeaway, Carman, her brother and I decided Indian food out was in order. We don’t have the best Indian food back in the suburbs of New Jersey, so I put my three year long drought to an end. The spicy curries, creamy lassi and chewy naan, made me question ever leaving London in the first place – as do most things. After dinner, we powered through some telly and then I crashed. For ten hours.

Day two entitled Balham brunch – a flakey croissant waffle with crisp, golden chicken smothered in maple syrup (the real kind) and gravy, made for a sweet and savory treat. I threw in a side of mac and cheese and topped the meal off with a sticky toffee pudding ice cream sundae. Oh, there were also two bloody Mary’s in the mix – this is vacation after all and I’m making up for lost time!

Carman then dropped me at the station so I could make my way to Canary Wharf for work, where my meeting was taking place and so she could venture off to the concert she had that night. It worked out well, giving me plenty of time to settle in, unpack and recover from jet lag. Monday rolled around and I made myself comfy at the office and became familiar with the meeting space.

In the evening, I headed to the Goodge / Charlotte street area, where I used to work for Major League Baseball and BaseballSoftballUK. That was when it really struck me that I was back in London – I felt like I was heading to the office, business as usual, like I had never even left.

It was crazy how many people showed up – Wendy, Jenny, JB, Jason, Patrick, Liz, Tim, Trevor and even the new girl. Although everyone’s lives had changes loads, going from one to two kids, being made redundant, etc, the conversation picked up just where it left off, not skipping a beat. We went to what was formerly Passions, where Wendy and I often ventured for “one glass” aka one bottle of wine. The new place was totally revamped, but I didn’t realize there was no longer food served, so crisps and cocktails had to do for dinner. I could think of worse! I did promptly stuff my face with food when I made my way back to the hotel at midnight, as one would.

Tuesday was more of the same when it came to work – busy, crazy, stressful – the usual. The group had a dinner that night, so I went to kick it off. The following evening, there was going to be another dinner at different venue, so I decided to give it a test drive to see what was in store. The owner, who was from Cyprus, sat and chatted with me throughout the night and and shared his love story with me – how he knew when he saw her in the yellow sundress that she would be his wife. It was sweet – something I feel hardly exists nowadays.

The food measured up to the story telling – scallops to start and fish and chips to follow – tender and not too much batter. And that was that – just a quick journey back to the hotel and straight to bed to prepare for another early wake up call.

Wednesday was a disaster for work. The room was too tight, we had to flip it upside-down right as everyone was arriving because our guest list slightly grew. Eventually, we got everything in order and were back on track, so I was able to return to my desk to tackle my never-ending emails. I went to kick off the dinner in the evening and this time I stayed. It’s nice to join sometimes to have conversations that extend beyond printing name badges or determining whether or not people speak English in England.


~ by wanderlust1011 on April 3, 2017.

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