let the good lend their hands

because denmark, belgium, and france weren't satiating my thirst for exploration and adventure, i hopped on a train from france to london.

i'm gonna dive right in with some serious stuff. on the train ride, i was privileged to sit by three incredibly intelligent, cultured, educated, and interesting people. the two hour train ride felt like it was only fifteen minutes. my head swirled at the conversations around me that i was desperately trying to keep up with. my hand scribbled furiously as i jotted down books, websites, authors, and fields of study. it brought me back to high school, where all i really wanted was to be well read, educated, cultured, and knowledgeable. it was fascinating, listening to these people from three very different countries discuss music, art, sciences, works of literature. i also felt pangs of regret as i reflected on the progress i've made in the last year [zero] and the intelligence i feel i've lost in a year of being sedentary. it reawakened a part of me that i'd forgotten; the half of me that thirsts for knowledge and stimulating conversation. though i think new year's resolutions are silly and inconsequential, it was great timing to try and refocus on learning and growing this coming year.

i arrived in london with a swimming head, and made my way away from the train station. the overwhelming feelings continued. i was back in a city.

hoards of people rushing by, chattering into their cell phones and waiting impatiently for traffic signals to allow them to cross. flashing lights--street lights, car lights, building lights. vendors yelling in vain to have their self promotion heard above the noise of the city. i don't know a less cheesy or cliche way to say this: i felt that newly awakened part of my soul jumping up and down with excitement, eagerness, and curiosity--things i haven't felt in a long time.

it was so refreshing to be back in a big city--to feel like a pro clutching my bag tightly yet calmly, sending my tube ticket through the card reader and stepping through quickly, not taking a wrong train, wandering around endlessly without getting lost or kidnapped.

there was the novelty of london itself--the little cars that look like they're centuries old and drivers on the right side of the car and the left side of the road, the big red buses on every corner, british accents everywhere, and the iconic red telephone booths

 buildings were outrageous, with stunning architecture and flashy lights--out of pride more than necessity. it reminded me of home so much [and by that i mean my florida one].

i switched my money for the third time in three weeks--dollars to kroners to euros to pounds--and as it happens, the exchange rate is getting worse. ha.

naturally i saw lots of beautiful and important things, and there's plenty of that yet to come, but here's where i'm going to start. i was walking down a row of shops when i stopped to take a picture of this sign. there was no particular significance to it; i like the lighting and the wrought iron fence. as i was taking it a pair of [attractive] boys (men? teenagers? they were my age, but what am i??) walked past and asked me what this building was. when i admitted i didn't know, they gave me a hard time about taking a useless picture. they then walked with me as i continued down the street. they joked about how stupid people from the states are [i.e., me taking a picture of an unimportant building] and then proceeded to talk about their upcoming trip to florida, to which i had a lot to contribute. and that, folks, is how easy it is to make friends in london.

[title from manchester by brendan james]

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