Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thoughts from Places: How to Commute

So I woke up yesterday morning at 7:45 and grumbled about the dark and the early because I am a college student and that's what college students do. (Also, England is farther north than you would think it is, since it's so warm here, and so the sun rises around 8 and sets around 4:30.) I was the only one up in the flat, because I had to eat and get dressed and catch a bus to Fulham to start my first actually full day of work.

There is a thing about buses in London, other than the fact that sitting on the top of a double-decker bus is outrageously cool. If you look up the time that a journey will take you on the Transport for London website, they are lying to you. Granted, I like to err on the side of caution, but still. It does not take thirty minutes to get from my flat to my internship. It takes fifteen. Tops. Another thing about double-decker buses is that if you sit on the top in the front, there's a windshield in front of you, just like there would be in the front of a regular bus or car. And from a good six feet in the air, looking down onto the street feels a bit like you are going to crash into absolutely everything in front of you. There have been many occasions - and I've only ridden the bus six times now - when I have thought OH GOD WE ARE GOING TO HIT THAT CAR or OH GOODNESS THERE'S A PERSON RIDING A BIKE DOWN THERE THEY'RE GOING TO BE FLATTENED. This is especially true when the bus you are on is going way too fast, honking at pedestrians and cars trying to pass when the bus is trying to turn, and generally lurching about (ie my Wednesday morning commute).

So after a harrowing ten minutes that left me at my stop fully half an hour before I needed to be there, I decided to take a walk. There really isn't much of anything besides houses in this area of London - they're really lovely houses, it makes me feel like I'm walking through the set of Mary Poppins (and I did, in fact, sing a bit of Chim Chim Cher-ee to myself because I'm cool like that), with all the neat roofs and chimneys and the pretty little front gardens.

Speaking of front gardens:

Yes, that is in fact a blooming rose bush. In JANUARY.

Have I mentioned how much I love London?

I spent my extra half an hour wandering around, looking at the roses in the gardens and the neat little houses, and I ended my wander by walking across the street from my internship's building to the Thames walk.

It was one of those moments - and I still have them now and again, even though I'm getting used to the idea - when it hit me that I live here. For four months, at least, I live in London, a beautiful city that barely feels like a city, a place that's full of history and culture and people speaking so many different languages I can't even identify them all. A city where I can see mockingbirds in the trees and and ducks on the Thames, where I can see roses in front gardens when in Ithaca, it's snowing away. A city that isn't a miracle or a dream or perfection, but a very real place, and it's the place that I'm lucky enough to explore for now.

And, at the end of a long day of searching Shutterstock for the least ridiculous images so I can put them into books, it's the place where I get to get onto a double-decker bus and lurch through the traffic, nearly hitting pedestrians and bikers, until I get to walk the last few blocks in the dark, back to the place I am, for now, calling home.


  1. Have I mentioned how jealous I am of you!? No? I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOU! London is one of the best cities in the world, IMO, despite the homocidal bus drivers.

    Have you been to the Globe Theater yet? When I was there you could get a standing ticket to a Shakespeare play for 13 pounds. Would totally recommend it!

    Hope you're having a heap of fun!

  2. I have to say that the journey will probably take 30 min during traffic, if they don't have a buss lane. :)

    Also, once you live in London you are spoiled for LIFE. It's not a bad thing, no, not at all. I can't say this enough times, after living there for almost a decade, I always compare everywhere that I live in to London. The city is magical. You should check out Hyde Park the Italian Gardens in March are to die for! Even now they would be amazing.

    And all this no snow *coughs* be ready for snow any time during February, March and even April. Twice while we lived there, we had snow on April, though it doesn't stick around for long.

    So happy to see you are having an amazing time in London Town *goes away singing*