Observations from an Outsider

I took myself on a date to the British Museum. After being blown away by the famous paintings in the National Gallery I wanted a twist toward archeological excellence. Before I left, I search for my lost sock in the laundry room. Two days gone. After the 10 pounds it took to do laundry, I lost a sock.

While walking, I am in a cloud of sweet smelling smoke originating from an Ecig, which I much prefer to the stench of a cigarette. Europe’s lungs match the dress code - black and black.

Yesterday, I glanced down at a man’s Camel pack on the table outside the cafe. The picture on the front was of a baby face. I couldn’t understand the connection, why does Camel want the user to think of babies when they smoke?

I grab a free magazine and paper from the bin, pardon the American, rack. I ride a lift down to my train. Occasionally, it’s just me on the platform. My station’s rather small. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent such a long period constantly alone.

The security guard outside the museum asked me if my bag held any knives. I said, "I don’t know" without understanding the questions. He repeats the question with a mix of snicker and concern. I made it through security.

The building seems disorganized. When I think I circle one direction, I end up a dozen rooms to the left. Everyone seems fascinated with the mummies, the room roars with noise. I prefer to read anything I can about ancient Israelites and their oppressors (Assyria, Rome, Babylonians, Greeks, Canaanites, etc.). There's a tomb from Jericho. Ancient idols made of clay. Augustus’ marble head that was buried to shame him.

Hours pass. I’m lost finding the exit, but stumble upon a room glowing white. I want a sweetie from a bakery, but restrain without proper occasion. I walk about 15k steps a day, but fail to exercise. Tonight, I wrote zucchini pasta on the menu to be healthy, but it suddenly comes to me that I bought a cucumber at Borough Market the other day thinking it was zucchini. (Update: I later found out I could not find the zucchini because it is called a "courgette" and I sliced my finger that night trying to peel it. Some ideas are better to not fully find completion.)

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I’m herded like cattle through the tube. Pushed, shoved and stepped on through the small staircases during rush hour. Outside, a calm 60 degrees with a white sky. Underground, a 80 degree mosh pit. I imagine myself in Katy Perry’s music video, “Hot N Cold.” The warmth leaves me in a haze of slumber. I wonder how people who fall asleep on the tube know to wake up at their stop.

I climb to the air and reach Leather Street. A contrast of silence to the hectic bustle of the tube. I can hear a nail drop, the hum of a delivery truck on the curb and a whistler echoing from another alley. I pass Santa sifting through heaps of trash to find treasures. The air turns moist and it’s drizzling, but not enough to pull out my umbrella.

I contrast Leather Street with Charing Cross, my previous favorite street. They both harbor bookstores down their alleys, but Leather’s contained chic photo filled magazines while Charing's held antiques. Leather had street food of all kinds. Charing was closer to the Monet paintings. Charing wins. (Update: I found out that Charing Cross was part of the street used in Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. So I am placing more emphasis on it's winning the imaginary cool street contest.)

I reach my destination, Good and Proper Tea. The wifi password is tea and crumpets. I’m not sure what a crumpet is. I try a Rooibos Latte with oat milk, which I now prefer, while I stare at cacti and try to form thoughts. Silence. Where is my tirelessly dripping shower head to give me some white noise? The water always lingers on my toilet from the shower as they are practically on top of one another. London’s space efficient.

I reached home without Citymapper. I’m almost fluent on the tube now. Some people I notice wear heavy coats, some wear skirts and some short sleeves. I’m glad to realize I’m not the only one who can’t comprehend the weather.