Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bisy backson




Monday, January 01, 2007

Ten of a Kind: New Beginnings





















(More Ten of a Kind here.)


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Index sticky: London 2006

Typical London photo

Day by Day

Wednesday 20 December
Thursday 21 December
Friday 22 December
Saturday 23 December
Sunday 24 December
Monday 25 December
Tuesday 26 December
Wednesday 27 December
Thursday 28 December
Friday 29 December
Saturday 30 December
Sunday 31 December

London Songs of the Day



Photos

Day by Day: Special themed photo albums:


Keep London well

"It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."—A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I wake up this morning in my own bed, groggy and disoriented. I'm still on London time, so I feel like I've overslept, and I drag myself out from under the covers and make a hoofpath to survey my Brooklyn apartment in daylight for the first instance in what seems like a lifetime. My brain and dreams were full of London last night: tube maps and sausages and wandering streets, Bridget Jones and the Doctor and Rose, all-day breakfast sandwiches and warm bitter beer, English accents still burned into my brain, dozens of songs from my London playlists shifting through my subconscious as I slept. I shuffle into the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea, then curl up on the living room couch and turn on BBC America on the television. It's the only channel I want to see or hear right now.

I'm a little down. The adrenaline rush of the trip has passed and left that weariness and slight gloom that returning to the real work sometimes brings. Gus the Cat comes by for a pet and a snuggle; I missed her. I fall asleep on the couch again while Location, Location, Location plays on the telly; I'll never know if the two gay guys from Manchester found their dream loft apartment.

It's afternoon when I wake up again and the bright morning I'd gotten up to before has faded to a dull Londony grey; it looks like it's going to drizzle out in Brooklyn today. My mood gets darker. I don't want to be down; I'm not keen on a post-holiday depression at all. I had a lovely time and wonderful memories...why shouldn't I be cheerful in that?

There's nothing in the fridge for lunch aside from old cheese and cat tuna. Reluctantly and slowly I get dressed and ready to go out and run to the shops...no, not the shops, to the grocery store. I slip my iPod into my pocket and spin the wheel to my London playlist again. Still can't stop listening to it.

I'm not sad, but I do feel melancholy. I remember the hundreds of things I saw and did but also keeping thinking of the million things I didn't. Except for St. Albans, I didn't get out of London—didn't go on a day trip to Dover or Cambridge as I'd thought I might. Didn't see a British movie for the first time, or even Casino Royale again. Once again, never made it to Highgate Cemetary. Didn't walk through the gardens of Kew, or visit any of the streets with the word "Bull" in their name, or the pubs likewise bovinely dubbed. Didn't get to Marylebone High Street or Daunt Books or the BBC Shop. Did not return, for the first time on a London trip, to Gloucester Terrace and the Swan. Didn't get my eggs beans bacon and chips breakfast I've been thinking about since last year.

Who wants to be in Brooklyn?

I wander down Fourth Street, a path I've walked at least a thousand times before. Whether it's happenstance or habit, I start to look up at the brownstone and brick buildings of my Brooklyn neighborhood, just like I was spying for unnoticed treasures in London, things that dozens or hundreds of people might pass by and not notice, like a white plaster figure on a Notting Hill rooftop. Or a gate whose bars are elongated letters of the alphabet. Or a chalk drawing of St. Paul's Cathedral. Or holiday lights made from colored plastic bottles. Or "You are."

And I spot, on a Brooklyn street less than half a block from my home

A find in Brooklyn
a carved ribbon of the faces of the seasons running the length of a brick apartment building

A find in Brooklyn
fruit and veg carvings at the top of a doorframe beam

A find in Brooklyn
a gutterspout Zeus and a drainage cherub

A find in Brooklyn
and a street as rich and gorgeous in its brownstones and hooded trees as any street in London.

And to my surprise, a smile and then a wide grin starts to grow on my little stuffed face. I've never seen these ornaments on the buildings, despite walking down the street nearly every day. I've noticed the beauty of the wide arches of Third Street but never thought to compare them to Kensington or Chelsea or Notting Hill.

And I realize that the best thing I brought home from London this time was not a suitcase full of books and CDs and toys, but new eyes, a new outlook, a new wonder. Within a handful of hours of my return I've spotted details that, like those I saw in London, get walked by every day, yet most people or bulls don't usually notice them or appreciate them, or take the joy from them their creators intended. My iPod begins to play U2's "Beautiful Day," as I smile, it is. It really is.

You love this town
Even if that doesnt ring true
You've been all over
And it's been all over you

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I'm not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See china right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
Beautiful day

So tho' I will miss London, I'll be, as I always promise, back. Until then, just as Scrooge vowed to keep Christmas well every day of the year, so I vow to keep London well every day until I return and beyond. When I am feeling down, I will open my button eyes wider, and see something in Brooklyn that fills me with delight, just like London.

May your New Year be filled with such moments that open your own black button eyes and bring joy to the satin heart inside your little stuffed self; may you keep your own personal London, whatever or where ever that is, in your heart every day of the year. In times of gloom or melancholy, be reminded of what makes you happy, and see it in the things around you. I will look at Brooklyn and Manhattan and see new things, and they will make me remember the feeling of a crisp clear morning walking on the Thames, or a hot piping sausage and mash, or the rumble of an Underground train, or "Sailing By" playing just before the Shipping Forecast.

And I will think of London, and smile.