I landed at London Heathrow a little before nine last night, and the wifi was working well (small victory number one). I got on my email, deleted the sixty-or-so unimportant messages that had come in since I departed Sarajevo that afternoon, read the ten or so emails that actually mattered, and sent a quick message to my friends here in London. Then I texted Sonja to let her know I’d landed, which unleashed a barrage of text messages that had been sent to me that day. Among them were some enthusiastic messages from my friend and fellow wine reviewer, Odedi, telling me I’d been mentioned in an interview with the founder of Vivino. It has more to do with my sense of style than my taste in wine, but I’ll take it all the same (small victory number two).
I got through security and actually had a pleasant chat with the first English gate agent I’ve met who was genuinely polite (small victory number three) and walked out of the airport. I was so tempted to grab a cab, to disengage my brain and just get dropped off at my hotel, but the fare was nearly sixty pounds, and I knew it was an unnecessary expense. I went back in from the taxi stand and down to the tube. I swiped my oyster and discovered there was still six quid on it (small victory number four) and hopped on the tube — making sure to mind the gap, of course. As we passed Baron’s Court, my old tube stop in West Ken, I snapped a quick picture.
I found my hotel easily enough — after asking for directions (small victory number five). I slept well last night (small victory number six) and ran four miles this morning free of pain (small victory number seven). Then I showered and cleaned up, grabbed a few gifts I know my family will enjoy (small victory number eight) and headed towards the part of West Kensington where I stayed when I worked in London back in 2013. I got off at my old tube stop, and everything seemed familiar, sans the fact that most of the cute little places I used to eat are now posh, ritzy places. No matter. I found my old flat and took a video of it to send to my kids, promising to bring them here one day (small victory number nine).
In my old neighborhood, I found my favorite pub, sat down to write this post, and ordered a beer (small victory number ten). There’s a terrific little black box theater in the basement of this place, and I lament that I won’t be able to take in a show tonight. Then again, I’m in England and England has qualified for the semifinals of the World Cup, so, you know, good enough (small victory eleven). The Sharp’s Doom Bar Amber Ale is, well, the quintessential English ale, served alllllllmost at room temperature, a meager 4% ABV, it’s creamy and malty and something I wish I could find stateside. I may just have to have another one. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying a bowl of leek and pea soup, and I think I’ll have a Scotch egg. (When in Rome… er… London.)
As I was writing this, I heard a rushing overhead — in fact everyone in the Curtains Up pub heard it, including the staff, and we all rushed outside. The RAF event which I had seen mentioned on the BBC this morning was taking place, and I got to join a crowd of astonished Londoners as pilots flew formations of various airplanes, historic and new, over the city. It was very impressive, and a neat moment to get to witness (small victory number… what are we on now, thirty-seven?).
I miss my family, of course, and that won’t change, but with all these little wins piling up I can’t help but to feel pretty good about life. I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re up to, you feel as if you’re winning at life. Take care, my friends. I’ll write again soon.
Cheers from London,