Today was the first day I had to wander freely around the city without the voice in my head saying, "you really need to find a place to live. Like now. You only have a short time at the hostel and taking showers with no towel and water that turns off every five seconds is getting old." And so to placate that voice I found a flat! I have been offered three different ones but I finally got one that fit my needs. It's a few stops away on the tube but only about 15 minutes all told (the distance from 9th east to the Gateway really and I know I can handle that). It is in a much quieter neighborhood (not neighbourhood as my spell check would like to make me say) which I like. I love the city and the noise and the people but I think I will really like being able to get away to something quiet in the evenings. The flatmate is really nice and since she is an interior designer the flat has a really comfortable feel to it.
I didn't know until this afternoon that it was mine so I wandered around a little stressed until then. I attempted to distract myself by wandering through the town, looking at every item in the local Sainsbury's, and sitting in a canal-side cafe writing in my journal for an hour or so. When I finally got the email it was such a relief. I immediately (ok not that fast I guess since I was busy watching to see if my mom made her flight) got on the tube to Picadilly Circus. From there I wandered down to Green and then St. James' Parks and on to Parliament Square. The crowds were as thick as Austrian accents but I found little bubbles of space to call my own. On Westminster bridge I gazed down the river for quite awhile before beginning my walk down the North bank. I was looking for a place to eat; something with a lot of life around it to watch, somewhere I could read about the history of the city while looking right at it. Turns out the North bank is not the place for that. I did find a good bench to watch the Eye and the people passing by but I eventually crossed Blackfriars bridge to get to where the life was.
The rain started coming down really hard when I was on the bridge, and the wind picked up as well (good call on the umbrella Mr. Steele, it really held up AND it's adorable!). I found a cute little pizza joint and sat down to celebrate my new home with a proper meal. I had a hot chocolate to take off the chill, a salad, a pizza (veggies with caramelized onions) and an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. The whole time, I read the Biography of London that Dylan bought for me. It is full of so many interesting bits of history on the city. Next to me was an old British couple and, when they did speak, 90% of the conversation was regarding the weather (as if they aren't used to rain by now) such as ,"oh Henry, do you think this will let up soon?" "look Henry, it's sunny over there but it's still raining here" "I do so hope it stops raining soon as the sun has come out" "The town has come back to life. It stopped raining! It's sunny behind you."
After a long, luxurious dinner+read a thon, I walked back along the South bank toward Parliament. All kinds of street artists were out (some that I enjoyed watching, some that made me run to the other side of the path). I think my favorite was a mime type of dude but without the facepaint. He was dressed in a suit and sunglasses, he was tall and skinny with a shaved head. If someone paid him, he would bring them into the empty circle surrounded by gawking strangers and silently adjust their various limbs to get them in the position he wanted, then he would pose with them for pictures. The customers were not just smiling and looking dumb, they were generally punching the sunglasses off his face, throwing him on the ground, etc. It was pretty awesome. Live music surrounded everything, people were smiling and having a good time, various art exhibits attracted crowds, and the weather lifted but the clouds made the sunset behind the north bank look amazing. I took no pictures of any of this. I didn't have my camera with me but I liked it that way. It was nice to have my first day out in the city be all for me. I am happy to tell you all about it but I kind of enjoy that I can't share all of it. (don't worry though, I will share SOOO much more in the coming days and weeks you won't feel left out). I was so swept off my feet by the beauty and life of the city it brought tears to my eyes. Take the coolest part of salt lake you can think of, raise it to the power of c (c=the coolest thing you can think of) and spread that over one of the most beautiful cities you can think of. That's my new home. Pretty ridiculously cool. :)
And for my parting thought today: Did someone once happen to fall into the gap, forever fating the city to eternal maternal warnings of doom?