After a long night on a very full British Airways 747-400, I arrived in London at one in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 8th. When I think back to that day, I remember J’s sweet face greeting me at the airport, being whisked home. I also remember it how filmmakers portray periods of feverish delirium in characters who are battling death: screen going dark and light according to the characters’ lapses in and out of consciousness, blurry images of people entering the room (or cave, in the case of Tony Stark/Iron Man), being given water or food by kind caregivers….
Anyway jetlag and sleep depro are not THAT bad, I’m just sayin that you lose time in those situations. Basically, I count my three-week anniversary from the following day, Thursday. Wednesday capsized and sank into the Thames.
Friday I trekked to north London (really, it’s northeast, but everyone seems to refer to this area as just “North London”) to the Islington/Angel neighborhoods for an orientation at the BUNAC office, which is required of all newly-arrived participants. This is the day I felt like I kept getting in the way. In the way of whom or what? I felt like I was getting in London’s way, pretty much. Really wasn’t twigging to the whole driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road thing. It’s not as if it is a new thing to me but I was not at my sharpest. In any case, I got in the way of a cyclist who called me a “retarded muppet” and I felt nervous any time I stepped off the curb.
I had adjustment pains of one kind or another for at least a week and a half.
Anyway, on Friday I managed to get an appointment for the following Monday to get an NI (National Insurance) number, which is kind of like a social security number and you need it in order to work. I found a passport photo booth and parlayed my just-expired ISIC (Intl student ID) into a fresh one, which meant I could get a discount rail card. I also managed to open a bank account and get myself a mobile phone. Not bloody bad.
The night before, J and I met two of her aunts for dinner at a chi-chi Japanese restaurant in Soho. I think I spent the equivalent of $75 on dinner. So that’s London for you!