See You Tomorrow
I was awake at 5:15 in the morning the Saturday my parents arrived in London taking Lauren to the train station so she could get back to Gatwick and then far far away from me--why, oh why did we have to part so soon. I must have had a nap, after a lovely trek through the Underground with some chaps still in Fancy Dress from the Halloween celebrations the night prior. All I remember is waking up to a new Viber message from my mother, which was almost as good as the e-mail I got from my father the night before.
Anyway, all the money should be in your account by Monday. See you tomorrow.
What, no you won't! BUT YES. YES, I WOULD BE SEEING MY FAMILY TOMORROW. I confess I was so excited I might have spontaneously teared up. It might have also been entirely embarrassing.
I texted my mother when I walked out of Embankment station, under the sunshiney English sun and the ever watchful London Eye. Something along the lines of "Where to next?" When, whattya know, my father walks up to me, holding a take-away cup of Costa like a regular Londoner, snarking, "I was told you'd be more observant."
It's called city-slicker tunnel vision, Dad. We only see what we're looking at, and sometimes not even then, or we'd see a lot more peeing homeless people. But that really is more of a New York thing than a London thing...
But this is how we communicate to one another in the Griscti household, and lord if it wasn't exactly like coming home. We sat underneath the Eye while Dad treated me to a Pumpkin Spice Latte, because that printer ink costs as much in Pounds Sterling as it does in dollars and I cannot justify an $8 cup of joe no matter how much it tastes like sprinkles and heaven. And like Christmas in London (which starts approximately 7 days before Halloween.) I pulled my presents out of my bag and handed them over Santa-style.
A (most likely reprint) of The Beatles butcher baby Yesterday and Today vinyl for Dad. And reprint or not, when your father sits you down for a talking to at 12 years old after Antiques Road Show to tell you that if you ever come across a butcher baby print in the wild, you are to buy it, no matter the cost, because he's needs a partner for his original Some Girls printing, you don't think twice when you come across one for £12 in Camden Market. Real or not, it's only £12. And besides, Dad thinks it's cool, man.
We wandered around central London near Holborn on their first jet laggy day, popped in to Fryer's Delight for some fish'n'chips where we paid 50p for two packets of tartre sauce and were subject to the uncertain torture of non-Heinz ketchup...but hey, when in Rome, right?
And then we spent way too much money in the London Transit Museum shop. Underground themed souvenirs for everyone! 'Cause even if it will kill me, I will inject a love of design into everyone I meet.
I dragged them all throughout Camden Lock markets on Sunday, because seriously, why don't we have things like that in New York. And I got myself a Piccadilly Circus roundel sign, because Piccadilly + Circus is giggle in a can every time. And every New York apartment needs a London Underground sign.
Afterwards, my gracious family treated my American cravings at a burger joint we found on Yelp. And I can't recommend Meat Mission enough. It even comes Dad approved, when the lazy susan showed off his condiments of choice:
Heinz and Hellmann's; now we're cooking with gas, man.
Though I don't exactly understand the British preoccupation with charging you extra for fries. It's a burger and fries, guys. And if you're going to call them fries on your menu, and not chips like you're supposed to, you can at least bundle them with the meat like your American counterparts do. But anyway! You want to hear about London tourism, don't you. That's why you're here, to live vicariously through me!
We headed off to the Tower of London in the rain--the crown jewels are as spectacular as your every Disney princess dream, but the torture portion of the museum is sorely lacking. Come here to see a real-life Bobby up close (a lot closer than you can at Buckingham Palace anyway). But be forewarned, after October 15 they all trade in the British Red for an awkward cornflower blue coat. It's just not the same. We had lunch at Pizza Express that day. Passable. Not so much pizza as dough with some fun toppings, and if you were not actively suppressing your pizza cravings every moment you weren't suppressing your bagel cravings, like I have been--it's a matter of survival, people--well, then...you'd have been disappointed.
Mom and I went to the Design Museum--disappointing, even the gift shop. Come on, guys. And then met Dad and Carlyn atop the Tower Bridge exhibition. The whole thing is enclosed in plexi-glass, which I wasn't expecting. You pay some ridiculous fee to ride the elevator up there, presumably to take pictures of either side of the Thames, and then the whole thing is enclosed in plexi, so the point is moot. Except, in a rare feat of British engineering ingenuity, there were these little windows all across the bridge you could pop open, just big enough to stick your lens through, and grab the shot you always dreamed of. For a moment, you're marveling at how clever the British are, and then you look out over the Walkie Scorchie and it's fancy new outfit, put in place so the sun can't hit it at just that right angle anymore...
Other highlights from the trip include desperately searching for a coffee shop open past 9PM on a Tuesday--What's an American to do for dessert here?--Madame Tussad's and a wax portrait with my neighbor--holla, D-Craig--taking Carlyn to Bleach London in Topshop's basement and scoring all the deals and a killer pair of matching floral pants at Primark, making my parents feel old by ordering beer at dinner, pubbing with my father, an American style down home rootbeer float the size of my face, sitting on the bathtub in my parents London flat while Carlyn doused my hair in peroxide in an effort to go bleach blonde (entirely successful), and while photograpphing St. Paul's from the Millenium Bridge, a shot I got on my cellphone and insisted my father recreate on his SLR, my father saw the Queen.
He saw the Queen, has the photographs to prove it, that he almost deleted at lunch and nearly threw a hissyfit about it--as I certainly would have, no buts about it, and the man has been in London at this point for less than a week. I've been here for months, where's my photo of the Queen?
They shipped off on Saturday morning, after a (mostly) dry-eyed goodbye, to begin their long journey back to Heathrow with a shut down Piccadilly line, and we waved from opposite ends of the Circle line platform, they bound for bagels and a town that didn't roll up it sidewalks at 8PM and me for another six weeks of scones in the rain. Not sure who got the better end of the deal, but one thing for sure, I wasn't quite yet ready to head home with them.