“Perhaps that was why he was never afraid of anyone, and yet his schoolfellows at once realized that he was not at all proud of his fearlessness, but gave the impression of someone who had no idea that he was brave and fearless.” — Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
must I always
be covered in
Ah, at any rate it’s difficult to get into the thing—there’s so much to talk about. Let’s start with something humorous, then:
Oh, yes. I know this is what you all came here for.
Two day flight beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday morning (yay for getting the SHITTIEST, cheapest tickets I have ever heard of — a twelve hour layover in Florida — I almost began to pray for death. Made the mistake of having a meal of chili cheese fries and coffee which I came to sincerely regret).
Boring travel BS aside, my first stop in sweet, sweet England was the seaside city of Brighton, situated just a couple of minutes away from my campus at the University of Sussex. On my arrival day despite everything, despite the overwhelming jet lag/fatigue/starvation that keeps normal (read: mortal) travelers incapacitated, I set out to explore the city on foot (in heels … you think I would learn … )
So, without any further ado, hello, Brighton!
Now, the English are apparently a people very concerned with the weather. It seems to be some sort of genuinely fascinating topic for them, the weather I mean, which strikes me as absurd; yet I realize that California has no weather to speak of, so touche there.
Brighton is a sweet little city, just the kind of place you can walk around in for hours on end — which I did. My eyes were so drunk on everything — the scenery, the new smell of the open air, the people jostling by — I was nearly overloaded, could barely see where I was going or comprehend what was happening. I think they refer to this clinically as a state of shock, and if so, I don’t think it’s ever going to wear off.
I began at the train station and made my way down the main street until I hit the seaside, but not before having some comically absurd thing happen (being very distinguishable looking here — did you catch the “ombre” hairstyle up there?). As I was making my way down one of the alleys (and the streets here, of course, are vastly different, being small and winding at times, looping in mad circles, etc.) I had some man run out of the back of a shop and chase me down the alley, screaming,
“TU AS TRES JOLIE!!”
(You are very pretty!!)
Luckily enough I knew about as much French as a poodle, so I replied to him in my hilariously broken way,
“je suis desolee, mais je ne parle Francais”
(I am sorry, but I do not speak French)
He apparently found this WILDLY HILARIOUS and continued to chase me down the alley, screaming some more,
“TU AS TRES CHARMANTE AUSSI!!”
(You are also very charming)
and several things that I believe were ‘solicitations’ or perhaps even requests which I dare not repeat here (as at this point I was fleeing from him).
Creepy Frenchman aside, once I made my way down to the seaside I had to suppress the urge to scream. I was so hysterically giddy and possibly even a little manic and delusional that the sight of England, my sweet England that I’d spent so many years dreaming of, that it was nearly too much for me:
which just so happened to remind me of one of my favorite scenes of all time:
I continued to walk and walk and eventually came across the area of town known as “the lanes”. This is the segment of town devoted to two things: shopping, and pubs. Being highly uninterested in shopping, I won’t include much of it here, though I did stop into one place:
THE HOTEL CHOCOLAT
Now, trust me when I say that I am a huge chocolate freak. I repeat, I am a huge freak about this stuff, so when I accidentally sauntered into this magical place of wonder I nearly lost it.
You have no idea … the difference in chocolate between Europe and the US is maddening. There is no comparison, NADA.
At the risk of looking like a fatass, let’s continue.
I then made my way down to the Pavillion, an area that seemed oddly out of place in the middle of little old Brighton:
it was a gorgeous area with a built in museum (another FANTASTIC thing about England: most, if not all of the museums, are free to the general public). I sauntered around in it for a while and then leisurely made my way across town.
Having no phone at that time, no internet, basically nothing but the small amount of clothes I’d brought suddenly put my life into a new perspective. I couldn’t help but think, I could literally vanish off the face of the earth, and no one would know; I could wander off into forever, go anywhere, see anything, act however I wanted — after all, who could judge me here?
It was the most liberating day of my life, and perhaps the first time I started truly (ironically) understanding the concept of freedom. It was beautiful and exhilarating but also terrifying. I had no one, no one at all, friend or acquaintance to talk to, no one who knew where I was, no way to get in touch with anyone. It nearly crippled me until the familiar voice crept into my ear, that of myself saying,
YOU ARE IN ENGLAND.
YOU ARE HAPPY,
DREAMS DO COME TRUE
NOW STOP WHINING AND
SHUT THE FUCK UP
ENJOY ALL YOU CAN
This is my familiar little motto here.
Incidentally, my last stop before my feet totally gave out on me was St. Peter’s Cathedral.