Sunday, September 20, 2009

O England

There is only one full day left of my European odyssey, after having spent a whirlwind day-and-eight-hours in Brussels because we had some time to kill and couldn't figure out where else to go and we wanted to go SOMEWHERE. But since we decided that Brussels is actually the San Luis Obispo of Europe -- sunny, warm, pleasant, and you can't quite put your finger on why it's boring -- it was a very pleasant short trip. Now we're back in London, preparing to fly out the day after tomorrow.

There are so many things I'd like to see in Europe: back to Italy, for example, the land of loud men's clothing and flamboyant hand gestures. Eastern Europe and the majestic spirals of Praha. But I find myself missing the individual money -- all those deutschmarks and francs and lire and pesetas (not to mention drachmas) that are currently gone forever. Instead, we have bland old Euros, except in England. And Switzerland, which has apparently not joined the EU.

Mostly this trip has made me nostalgic, although my friend Raf and I were discussing how strange it is when parents get nostalgic for the past of their when you wish your toddler was still an infant. Sometimes I get nostalgic for Europe, even though I'm actually in Europe, because I'm really getting nostalgic for what it was ten years ago, when I came here and you could get a hotel room in Spain for the equivalent of $8. I miss having everything be gritty and new and different, and the language polyglot, and smacking people by turning around with my backpack.

Ten years later, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it's still a complicated, immense continent, more like a place to live than a place you'd want to visit. And, conveniently enough, most of my trip here was spent "living"...staying in people's houses, visiting their families, learning their routines. No hostels, this time. No hostiles, either.

It's a different place, for all that there's a church down the street that's 600 years old. But I'm a different person. Thank god.

PS We went to Cyberdog today on the way back to Chalk Farm. Everything in there a) is very cool, b) would look fantastic on me, and c) costs immense quantities of pounds. A pity. So much cuteness for raver culture!

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