Approaching the end of my first week in England, all the jet lag evaporating, unlike the consistent mists that hang and hover above London. I rather enjoy the overcast look, and have come to appreciate my morning coffee in the mists that rise over Barnes Pond, and the grays that come in the evening when I sit on Isi’s doorstep and watch the mists curl under the cars and above the homes that are so characteristically London.
In the short time I have been here, public transportation has become my expensive friend. The tubes and overground rails and red buses are better alternatives to all the traffic jams Los Angeles cradled me in. They provide me the opportunity to really observe the people here; the woman with all her shopping bags who looks out the window longingly, like that husband she thought she would have by now is strolling down King’s Road with a wedding ring in his pocket; the tired man with the tinted grey beard who mumbles swear words with all his craziness knocked in his sorrowful eyes like an arrow; the children fresh from private school who wear silly jackets and are more brave at their age than I would have been if the bus was my only way home from school.
And certain things here in London are more excitable than they would be in the US. Like the football game we went to yesterday at Wembley Stadium. There’s something to be said about football fans here, the way their chants and songs fill the entire stadium in decibels and pitches no television or radio station can reproduce; how they open their arms during the game- ostensibly lost in the kind of trances that religion must be jealous of- and pour their souls into the song, eyes open wide and heads tilted toward the heavens in a sporting dance. When Chelsea scored on Manchester City, we jumped, and laughed, it felt so good, there in that moment, to feel that electricity coursing through me with the Chelsea scarf I bought on Wembley Way flapping all around my smile. It’s infectious, the love people here have for their sports, and it rubs off on me, still lingers on me after the showers I have taken since; it’s the cologne I carry with me into this friendly pub, and I surely wear it well.
Neil Young once sang a song called Helpless. In it, he sings about a town in north Ontario, saying “all my changes were there” while his harmonica settles the song into a bluesy, reflective ambiance. I hear that song now, as I sit here with my pint of beer, with the people walking on the streets outside, moving from destination to destination while I make characters out of them, and the song, those lyrics and all these people bring me the type of inspiration and life fulfillment that I lost after spending years in an empty Los Angles apartment that gradually dripped all the love and excitement from it like a pipeline flood that grew larger as the years went on. No amount of duct tape could ever pull the holes I experienced in Los Angeles together, but somehow London has done it in only a few days; it’s cured my confusion, has salted it and cooked it nicely. It’s like I can finally take a knife and cut through the rough parts, can enjoy my renewed spirit with a spoon and can twirl my life memories together in a spaghetti curl.
Nighttime is about to settle down here in Chelsea. The lights here penetrate me a little deeper, light my traveling way more efficiently than the fluorescent bulbs that lit me up and lit me down in my Los Angeles apartment; all the nights spent on my couch, with burned out bulbs holding me in a wallowing glow as I penned forced words into a weeping journal seem a little trivial now. Funny, how something as simple as London lamplight can symbolize my brightened disposition. Soon I will leave this pub and will travel to Soho, to eat Chinese food in the company of great friends. And the prospect of company- how nice, how energetically motivating- lifts me up that much higher, so I can finally see above the clouds of my sooty disrepair to the point where damper weather and nicer lighting and the sounds of beer glasses clanking into this Chelsea night have taken my Helpless and made it Worthwhile.