Saturday, April 24, 2010

When in London

I'm writing this on my iPod, using the hotel's free wi-fi, which I'll use as my excuse both for its brevity and its errors. London. I haven't learned a thing. Last time I was here, I was also one of three 'foreign correspondents' for the school paper, and my final piece (dubbed by the faculty advisor as one of the best editorials this paper had ever seen - and yes, I'm one of those jackasses who remembers praise like that) was about my expectations on coming to London, what I found when I got here, and what I took home with me. The idea was that I had all these big expectations and hopes that never quite panned out. But - I had these awesome experiences that I never could have anticipated as well. And what I took home? This hunger to know my world better, its localities as well as its exotic foreign places. I quoted Chesterron on the idea that the purpose of travel is to eventually see your home country with new eyes. And it kind of worked.

Kind of.

But when I planned this trip it was because the unrealistic fantasy had taken root in my brain again. I had this image of seeing Amanda play, of getting to meet Beth at the merch table, of getting Neil Gaimam's autograph (or even, honestly, to just be in a room that small with him at the same place and time. I thought I would be brave and go out to pubs and meet cute locals. None of this happened the way I hoped, because I am the person that I am and this world is the place thar it is.

First, the volcano. But that didn't defeat me.

Next, the news that Beth wasn't coming on this tour. Disappointing, but I'll live.

Then the news that Neil Gaiman is in town, but went to last night's show and has other plans this evening.

Then the show, which was fantastic and well worth the trip. But - afterward, as I'm waiting for autograph time it's announced that AFP has the flu and won't be signing tonight. So this little child's tamborine I bought to get Neil Gaiman, AFP, and Jason Wwbley to sign as a joke/unique memento ended up unsigned. I could have gotten Jason's signature, but it would have seemed so sad without the others as well. I'm treating it like a coin tossed in the Trevi fountain - a sign that I will go to another AFP/Evelyn Evelyn show sometime before I die.

And as for bravery? I'm too tired. I cling too much to comfort and safety. But even if I wasn't sitting in my hotel room typing this, even if I was at the pub pn the corner instead, I wouldn't meet the people I imagine myself meeting, wouldn't have those (fictional) conversations or become this better, happier person in one weekend. It's been nearly 4 years to the day since I wrote that article, and here I am, still learning the same lesson.

Two good things have come out of this:

One. I no longer feel this desperate urge to live in England, which is good for financial and citizenship reasons.

Two. I remembered - vaguely, and in the midst of an AFP performance - what it was like to create something and have it be a Big Fucking Deal, have it be passion and obsession and the kind of happy-crazy-electric-spot on discovery - that's right, DICOVERY, because the art you've created seems too much like it has always been there and you just found it, just wrote down the chords or typed out the dialogue, or like you heard that breathtaking description like a VoiceOver in your brain. Not creation, discovery.

I want that again. Don't know if I'll ever get it back, but I want it.

So that was it, the big epiphany. That was, I suspect, what this weeken was all about. The hard part will be getting on with my life on Monday.

It's easy to be swept up in adventure, because all you do, really, is react. Even the bravest actions in stories are usually reactions to a villain's tyranny. It's harder to just live.

But live I shall.

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