Day 1: Plane on the ground, find cab, check in, wash face, throw clothes from suitcase into closet, find some friends, find a pub, pay for cider: now you’re in London.
Day 3: Put on your fanny pack and visor and slip your camera around your neck: see the buses, the Abbey, the Palace, the River. See the Eye, the castle, the streets: the winding medieval streets that are so unlike the grid city you call home.
Day 6: Wake up, put on your grown-up clothes, grab your grown-up purse, try not to get lost. Arrive too early, no one in the building, sit outside for fifteen minutes. Call your new boss, ask her why she’s late on your first day: correction– apologize for being early and making her worry, shake her hand, stay attentive while she gives you a tour. Work hard, ask lots of questions, “Great, I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Day 12: Up early on a Sunday. New place, new people, gotta go, gotta see it all: sleep when you’re dead (that’s what you hairstylist told you). Take the train, take a seat, spot the car, pile in: now we’re adventuring. To those dreamy hills, those ancient grounds, those picturesque towns. To the beach, to the pub, to the sleepy ride home. To the bus stop and waiting, waiting, waiting, until finally home at three in the morning and work too soon.
Day 15: Admit to yourself you actually really enjoy watching football. Later that night: admit it to your soccer-playing boyfriend. Rub it in his face that you’re watching the matches in pubs. Console him with pictures of the flags and the screens and the people and the pints.
Day 19: A week gone and starting to feel like there’s a bit of a map in your head– fuzzy maybe, but enough to point a tourist in the right direction (hopefully). Take the tube, follow the signs, find the gallery, stand until your feet go numb and your eyes alight with color and texture and history and your body shivers with the amazement of life(art). Spend too much time in the giftshop. Spend too much money in the giftshop, and on the way to the next gallery. Vow to learn Spanish– to really learn it this time– and decide to go to Spain, to Portugal too…and so a list begins of next time, when you return.