I spent last week in London at my friend's au pair family and it was absolutely great, apart from the combination of stomach flu, period cramps and slight migraine that I had on Thursday. But even then I was so well looked after - what with the constant delivery of hot water bottles, tea and enquiries as to whether I'd like to try to eat something - that in the end it wasn't all so bad. It's funny how many things the trip seems to have given me in retrospect. My main motive to go to London was to do some broader university related research than books and Internet. The next thing was to see the friend with whom I stayed. And I guess I didn't really have any other initiatives to pursue during my stay.
First of all, I missed the top three exhibitions that I wanted to go to. However, apparently I got so much to think about from the stuff that I got to see and experience that I keep forgetting this unfortunate detail altogether. I'll put a list of all the interesting places I went to at the end of this post in case anyone's into knowing those kind of things.
Next, as I was staying in the home of people I didn't know, except for my friend but she's the au pair so not really a family member, I was slightly worried that I'd be on the way and a nuisance. They have two small children, which especially made me a bit uneasy in advance because I'm not the biggest fan of kids in general. During the first five minutes with the family though, it came clear that there would be no awkwardness or me feeling intrusive with these people. I was made feel so incredibly welcome that I quickly forgot that I had only met my generous hosts some minutes ago.
As if that wasn't enough, the dad is the most amazing cook whose creations I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying. On Saturday there was an Indian meal and on Sunday a Japanese one, and I believe my heart was left there, in that kitchen. Now I wonder why would I ever want to go to restaurant again. Yeah, that's how good it was, and it didn't cost me a single penny, which is all kind of nuts but I'm not complaining.
And the kids, well, we got along really well too.
Another brilliant thing about my accommodation was having a hot bath on my sick day.
a hot bath mmmmmmm
Then something else that I wasn't expecting to have such a powerful effect on me.
Obviously, always on term time I'm away from my closest friends since they don't live in Wales, and obviously, I sometimes miss them. On the other hand, I also see them quite regularly on holidays so this arrangement isn't too hard to handle.
So I was really, super excited about getting to spend a whole week with one of my most long-term friends; just how much I would appreciate it, I didn't see until after a few days. I suppose when you've known someone for 13 - holy fucking shit that's an eternity - years, at some point you have started taking them for granted, which you at another point will realise, and then start really appreciating them being in your life - if that makes any sense. I mean, when you have relationships that last for years and years, and specifically when they extend from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood and hopefully to the grave, there are these critical points where each of you has to take your own personal growth steps separate from one another, and there's always a chance that your steps start going very different ways. But when they don't and you still stick together, the bond keeping you close strengthens and becomes something special and magical like in a Disney film.
To be honest, what I think happened to me during last week was something that has happened with my best friend an undefinable time ago. I don't have any idea what to call it, but I think it is something along the lines of finally being able to see the difference between the person you met 13 years ago at the age of 9, and the person she is now, truly understanding the difference between those two people, and focusing on the now instead of the years of memories and experiences. Appreciating the now and the people you two have grown to be, then feeling awful for not having grasped it before and not having treated the other one with all the respect they deserve; and then letting it go because everything's already been forgiven.
Ok, I'm getting a little bit poetic here but that happens whenever I feel like I've learned something new about my life so deal with it.
I still need to say a few words about this particular experience of enlightenment as I don't think I've ever given the friendship in question the credit it deserves. What a horrible state of affairs - but I can be ridiculously oblivious at times as we have already noticed earlier.
Nonetheless, to rediscover the true value of something that has been constant in your life for more than half of it, is quite amazing. Spending a week with someone around whom you can just be yourself, completely effortlessly, is more relaxing than a bubble bath - if you're as self-conscious as I am. I normally don't even pay attention to how much I'm controlling my whole being among most people. Only spending an extended period of time in the company of my best friend usually shows me just how much more reserved I am with uni people for instance. It's not that don't like those people too, I'm just very private about my innermost thoughts and feelings. In other words, I hoped this trip to London would be a breather from the physical presence of university; instead it was a totally unexpected relaxation in many sorts of levels and volumes, and I couldn't be more grateful.
I think I was planning to talk about something else too but now it's gone.
It's just really comforting to think that when everything sucks and everyone around me is full of shit, at least my best friends will always be my friends and Nightwish makes awesome music.
Now the list of things I did in London in chronological order:
- breakfast at nar café & bistro in Stoke Newington
- a ballet class at Firststeps School of Dance in Hampstead
- a take-out lunch at Camia Italian Delicatessen in Stoke Newington
- Living and Dying exhibition in British Museum
- Johan van Mullem's exhibition, Origin, in HUS Gallery
- a coffee break at Sacred Café in Soho
- a theatre play, Mojo, in Harold Pinter Theatre
- the rare materials room in Wellcome Collection
- lunch at Peyton and Barne in Wellcome Collection
- The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House
- Ayse Erkmen's Intervals at The Curve in Barbican Centre
- dinner in Hubbub Cafe Bar at The Space in Isle of Dogs
- a dance event, Emerge 13 at The Space
- Reflections from Damaged Life. An exhibition on psychedelia. in Raven Row gallery
- take-out lunch at Wrap-it-Up near London Liverpool St station
- organic shopping at Whole Foods near Piccadilly
- Wellcome Collection
And that's it. I want to go back like tomorrow.