It is only magnificent.

Since returning to London, I’ve found myself struggling to write a single word.  I was plumb worn out with talking and rehashing!  However, in the interest of having a guard against future forgetfulness (and, of course, in the interest of my class grade!), I am back on the horse, fighting the blog burn-out.

When last I typed, I hadn’t yet left Ireland.  Our flight back was uneventful, though dragging my bags (heavy with presents for many of you lovely people) through two airports, onto the Piccadilly Line, with a transfer at the Northern Line to Waterloo… not my idea of fun, per se.  But, we survived!  I had actually missed my tiny little uncomfortable bed.  (I can only imagine how much heaven awaits me in mattress form at home.)  We didn’t get into Heathrow until late Saturday night, so we didn’t do much of note that evening.  On Sunday, my first priority was some sorely needed laundry.  Sunday and Monday were both days “off” from the program, and classes technically resumed on Tuesday.  I spent those two days recovering, enjoying wandering around South Bank with my friends.

View from Riverfront

On Tuesday morning, our class met briefly to discuss our respective paper topics and to eat cake for a few peoples’ birthdays.  (Yum, breakfast of champions!)  Carrie and I then decided to head over to Notting Hill and check out Portabello Market.  I must admit, I had this song and accompanying scene in my head as we walked along.  Portabello Road is great, full of every kind of anything you can imagine.  Antique shops, Scottish cashmere, thrift and vintage stores, pizzerias, coffee shops, flower and fruit and vegetable stands, jewelry shops… very photogenic, all of it.

Alice's Antiques
The Flowered Corner
Looking Down

That night, I made my way across Waterloo Bridge and the Strand with Carrie, Nicole, Carey, Laura and Jenn.  We ended up at the Wellington, where we had some delicious dinner, drinks and dessert… topped off by a random batch of rain!  These girls have been so lovely, I’m very glad to have met them and feel lucky that I was able to spend my month abroad in such wonderful company.

Laura, Carey, Nicole
Carrie, Jenn
3 umbrellas, 6 girls. Somehow, this happened?

After a few beverages, we pranced back over the bridge and Nicole, Carrie and I swerved off to take some pictures of South Bank at night.  The Queen’s Walk seems to be full of people at all hours; at night, however, the population is tilted strongly in the direction of cuddling couples and circles of young people with guitars and wine.  The London Eye is just gorgeous all lit up, surrounded by twinkling trees and buskers playing beautiful songs to the evening air.

Carrie & I on Waterloo Bridge
Reflections in the Thames
London Eye

I know that I’m much less verbose in these entries than I was in the beginning – as much as this has been the trip of a lifetime, I think that the fervor with which we experienced the city has taken a toll on me.  Today is our last day in the city, and I feel a little bit guilty that I’m not devouring every last possible experience while I still have the time.  I felt the need to take a slow day, however.  I’m trying to recap, consolidate these experiences and put them in context for myself.  I’m preparing myself to reenter my “real” life, and I am honestly not sure how I will have changed during the absence.  I am not afraid that I will be different.  I am afraid that my life won’t be.  I’ve had some revelations about my priorities and habits and motivations… and I don’t want to go home only to fall back into the same old mindsets.  One thing that hasn’t changed (and isn’t likely to ever change) is my occasional need for space and quiet – they’re necessary for putting my brain in order.  🙂

From the Museum of London

“It is not a pleasant place; it is not agreeable or cheerful or easy or exempt from reproach.  It is only magnificent.” (-Henry James, 1869) Such a strange emotion – I feel like I am returning home and leaving it at the same time.


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