Well, as I emerge blinking into the early-September sunlight I take stock of what is behind me. A completed master’s thesis, a trip to a music festival, a holiday, a move to a new flat. Rapidly approaching is the year anniversary of living in England, and hopping on a plane the next day to visit my family and travel the east coast of America on a two-week whirlwind tour. Not horrific, I guess.
The weather in London these past few months seems to have done its best to make us poor master’s students not feel bad about missing it. Cold and rainy, for days on end. Apparently it’s been the rainiest summer in 40 years, which is great because England’s needed it. As an American from a southern state, that gets hot as blazes and dead grass in July is routine, the thought of England in a drought is fairly comical. But it’s true, it hasn’t been raining here the way it should. So I suppose all this rain has been productive on many levels.
I feel like I blend into English culture a bit better than I did, at first. Now I walk through the streets in their quick, smooth gait. I zigzag around those who are lagging, and when stuck I can feel my face pinching into that very familiar “pained/exasperated but enduring” look. I say “bollocks” and don’t feel out of place about it, I listen to the bbc radio programs, and I managed to have a communication exchange on a staircase using only noises and body gestures (me, going up the stairs, see a man in the way. he, coming down the stairs, sees a woman in the way. he: “hrrmmnnrph” me: “irmpf”. we pass, social obligations fulfilled.)
But I still want to say something. To anybody, all the time. The very strong American impulse to make small talk, or explain yourself through some small joke or just comment upon something. I feel affronted when someone does it to me, oddly enough, but I still have to bite my tongue to stop myself from filling the silence.
I live by myself now, in a little (and I mean little) studio flat in south east London. It’s a completely new area for me, so I’ve been learning the new bus routes and where to eat, or go for a drink, and the different walks around the area. I now live just three streets from a lovely and very large park, which may just guilt me into finally bringing my running shoes to London. I live on a quiet residential street, with beautiful houses. Many of them have been creatively split up into various different flats (my building, however, is not one of them. I clearly live a room of an old house.)
While the days are still warm enough, the nights and mornings require an electric heater to chase away the chill. An old building means no double-glazing on the windows, so I’m preparing to frantically knit some afghans and blankets to swath myself in all winter. The flat has some fantastic bones (an old fireplace, good light from a nice window) but definitely needs some sprucing. I may subject the pages to some before and after photos of my little work-in-progress. I’ve been prowling IKEA, Apartment Therapy, and Design Sponge, so I have a plan of attack . . . but it’s all in the implementation.
So all of this is just to say that hopefully the blog is back in action.