Where You Lay Your Head.


I was sat in a computer workshop yesterday about online citation softwares that was so boring I’m pretty sure it should have audition for a place as one of the circles of hell. The librarian is admirably excited about Knowledge. “Knowledge” said with a big, round O in the middle for the sake of reverence. I suspect he’s also a little bit of a conspiracy wing-nut. He kept digressing into sideways comments about “the man behind the curtain” who secretly controls the freedom of information on the internet. He talks about himself in the 3rd person, and uses phrases like “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.” Though not technically falling under the category of “paying attention” and yet gamefully in the spirit of the class, I was mining my WordPress dashboard for discarded drafts, unfinished works, half-completed thoughts. Karma caught me a cheeky uppercut to the emotional jaw though. I made myself homesick. I came across this:

The audience chitters, taking seats, spilling drinks from structurally defunct plastic cups, arranging cushions, fluffing blankets, patting pockets for half-rememebered tickets (just-in-case,) perusing seat numbers, checking out seat neighbours, assessing the view for the evening. I am trying not to snuffle like a hog with its head in the mud. I have a cold, but I am there. I am full of Boots’ finest cold medications and I have enough tissues to stem the nosebleeds of the entire New York Rangers’ fourth line. I. Am. There. And thank god I am. I could not have missed this for a bout of necrotising fasciitis, let alone a piddling little head-cold.

What seems like a plain old audience member jumps to her feet, a well-thumbed book in her hands, and begins to read. In that instant I am thrown bodily into the past, into my school days. As first one, then another  and still another voice rises from among us to sound out the beginning of the tale, I remember the emotional maelstrom I rode out the first time I came across Harper Lee’s shattering, Pulitzer prize winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ah, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Big, and green and inviting, with fairy lights and summer warmth and excited theatre-goers making magic out of thin air. Sat under fluorescent lighting listening to a little man wax lyrical about database search bars I was deeply heartsick for summer nights at Regent’s Park. Unfortunately for my diligent attention to truncating my search terms so as to better broaden the scope of my research, homesickness is a snowballing phenomenon.

From Regents Park its a short mental hop to Marylebone highstreet with its soft, round scones and tea with my mum after a shopping day. In that situation I’d most likely have been on a stressful last-minute hunt for something to wear for an event or party. I’d have insisted all along I didn’t need anything new, until at last, almost too late, I’d have cracked and dragged Mum out to hunt for The Perfect Dress. Poor Mum, she always come through though. Her special Mum alchemy means she always finds something that looks on the hanger like nothing I’d ever wear but after some gentle persuasion I try on and fall in love with.

Tea gets me thinking about Fortnum and Mason and Dean St Town House, all the places I go with Jane to splurge on afternoon tea, something I have yet to find in NYC. Afternoon tea, like marmite, seems to be an English phenomenon Americans have no interest in. British things that have no equal in New York leads me to thinking about Covent Garden, and even my documented hatred of cobblestones  can’t dissuade me from romanticizing my memories of the Royal Opera House or boiled eggs at Le Pain Quotidien.  I miss English pubs, and never having to talk to anyone in an elevator or on the tube (I miss calling it the tube!). These days, as I splash gracelessly up to my ankles in New York’s winter speciality: the curb-side slush puddle, I miss England’s lack of snow. Who’d have thought I’d come to miss English weather?!

I miss my sofa at home, the broad brown sofa where I nest into one corner until my parents make fun of the hole I’ve made in the cushion, the exact shape of myself. What my apartment optimistically designates a sofa wouldn’t be out of place in a hospital waiting room, and the only way to make a comfy little hole in it would be to take a chainsaw to it and carve one out.

I feel a little silly being 24 years old, living in an apartment on Broadway, and yet still getting homesick. Guess I should have listened when they told me home was where the heart is.


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