My time in London ended just how I began it: happy, drunk, and nothing working out as planned. From volcano ash to last minute plan cancellations; I never expected to meet Charlotte’s friend who was renting her the flat and I never suspected I’d leave it for a hostel. But twists and turns are all apart of the adventure while traveling and you have to learn to roll with the punches. Life will always give you lemons. You simply must then grab the tequila and salt and have a damn good time.
My first weekend in Londontown was a blur of alcohol, office meetings, and being introduced to various interesting people. Everything was comfortable and easy. I was staying with Charlotte, a friend I met in Bolivia and ended up spending a month traveling to Argentina with. Everyday we fought like an old married couple, but somewhere behind the abusive sarcasm was love.
Phil even made an appearance from Liverpool for a few days just to hang out with me and his other friend Becky he was staying with. During the week, Phil and I went on park crawls while Charlotte and Becky worked. We spent the sunny hours having office meetings in various parks, usually with a beer or bottle of wine. When it got too cold, we strolled to different museums; luckily England believes these places should be free. In the evenings we’d reconnect with our friends for drinks or dinner and life was damn good. I spent a couple of nights hanging out with Becky that week and I knew in a moment I could count on that girl as a friend.
When Phil left it was with the promise of returning for my final weekend in London, conveniently for Becky’s birthday barbeque I was eager to pencil in my very open schedule. The following week, Charlotte worked hard during the day but managed to save energy to go out for the evening. I’d meet her for drinks or prepare dinner at home. The days were long for her but since she seemed dead set on planning things for me in the evenings, I didn’t seem to think it was a problem.
The second weekend, there were plans for all days and yet nothing went just as it should. Not to say this was a bad thing; I love spontaneity and since I rarely care what I’m doing anyway, I never really noticed a difference. We did everything from dancing at divey pubs to dancing at swanky East London clubs. (Are you surprised? I’ll dance anywhere and everywhere. That’s the whole point of going out, eh?)
One notable trait about London I feel compelled to point out is they are stuck in the 80’s. From the clothes to the coke fiends, I was well impressed with the blast form the past. Couldn’t help but buy a couple of things, luckily cheap from consignment (amazing boots for only $1.50!!!). Really though, it seemed every night we were out, everyone was snorting up lines on toilets and coffee tables, in the club and at home. British people have a habit unlike I’ve ever seen before. And trust me, I’ve seen this habit before: I’ve been to Bolivia. But something about London was different. No one could go out without it.
So I gave it a whirl. When in Rome, right? Yup, just as suspected. Nothing. I never understood how people don’t get affected by marijuana or only get paranoid. Now I get it. Cocaine has no real affect on me. Allegedly, it makes you talk more, dance more, and be able to go all night long. Seems I already have a well-coked out personality. So there I was, yet again, the only one not doing lines in the group and yet I could dance harder and longer than them all. Of course once I have a spliff I would crash and burn in two seconds flat. But that’s another story.
So while the specifics of the partying weekend don’t need to be visited (ok, I had a massive gang of young boys chasing me…..every cougar’s dream…swoon) I’ll just skip to the good stuff. The unexpected downfall of a good friendship.
Throughout my last week I basked in the ability to sleep in, make brunch and eat it in the sun on the roof, go for a jog, and internet as much as I wanted during the day. I never had to meet Charlotte before 6 so I was always eager for whatever event she had planned. From drinks with old co-workers to meeting her parents, she had every night on lock-down. The only night she required staying in the flat was Thursday, to prepare for the weekend. Taking advantage of my freedom and giving her the opportunity to chill out on her own, I planned a couple of rendezvous’ with old friends. First, afternoon drinks with a friend I bartended and lived with in Bolivia. By the time he had to catch his train home to Bristol, I was off to meet an old Malta friend for dinner. We only had a drink but were able to gossip about the various marriages and divorces of everyone we knew.
On my walk home to the flat I was so happy I was actually skipping. For no reason in particular, I just felt that my life was overwhelmingly perfect; everything was just as it should be. I had a glorious, relaxing day and it was filled with friends from all different adventures in my life. I was thrilled to be able to walk back “home” to my dear friend, possibly have an office meeting, and call it an end to a great day. I had no idea what was actually in store for me.
Before I even walked into the flat I could smell the weed and hear music and chatter. I was surprised to find Charlotte awake but elated because that meant we could actually talk for a few minutes. A friend of hers was there and they were just wrapping up a dinner and smoke sesh I would have loved to have been apart of. Spirits were good; we all chatted for a bit, and then soon enough the friend was gone.
I asked Charlotte if she wanted to skin up one last one before bed but she said she already had too many. Slightly bummed, because we hadn’t had office supplies in awhile, I mentioned I was looking forward to smoking with her at the end of tonight. Then she went mental. To this day I’m still lost as to why.
The specifics of her tirade and the words said do not need to be shared with the world. In truth, I already wrote it down but have realized to share a personal fight that led to an unfortunate downfall of a friendship is petty. I know in the end what she said was cruel, fictitious, and she unnecessarily used me as a scapegoat for the anger she was feeling in general. I never responded to anything she said because it was so off the wall; truly I just stood there and got verbally abused. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had received this treatment from her.
I knew in a couple of days when she calmed down we could talk about it and come to an agreement, but in truth, I was tired of it all. This was not the first time, nor I suspected the last time, she would ever release so much anger and negativity upon me. I simply couldn’t take it anymore; I was broken. I know in my heart I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I’ve never let anyone speak to me that way, even my father, and I have (in the past) cut him out of my life for a period of time just for doing so. I realized it was necessary to do the same with her if I wanted peace and harmony in my life. Her flat was filled with so much negative energy and I only had one weekend left in London, I wanted it to be easy and fun.
I had also realized how extremely lucky I am to have had so many amazing hosts thus far and continue to have friends all over the world open up their homes to me and constantly invite me over to stay. My life is full of wonderful, generous, and positive people; I really don’t have the time or energy to waste on someone who verbally abuses me so.
So I ran away.
The next morning while Charlotte was at work, I searched the internet for couchsurfing hosts and hostels. Turns out, there was a fun-looking and cheap hostel in Brixton, the area of London I was already in, which meant I didn’t have to get on the tube or go searching about too hard. So I crossed my fingers, hoped for good luck, and asked the Universe to guide me wherever I needed to be. I never said anything to her about leaving; I simply packed my bag and left.
In truth, it was one of the easiest decisions I have made in a long time, and for everyone who knows me knows how indecisive I am. Yet something inside told me to run that night she came down on me and in the morning it was still obvious that I had to leave. With a quick phone call home, I had the support and understanding of my mother and knew it was time to go. I have never turned my back so easily on such a close friend and I hope one day it doesn’t become something I regret. Luckily for the time being it has proven to be a successful decision.
Hootananny hostel was located above a bar and while it looked a bit of a dive, it was perfect. I only had enough time to drop my bag and run out the door as I had plans to meet with another friend from my time in Bolivia. We had several rounds of drinks and a damn good curry dinner before she had to catch the last train home. It felt good to know not all my friends felt about me the way the Charlotte did.
When I made it back to the hostel, I found a large group of people hanging out and well into their drinking. I was pointed in the direction of a 24 hour liquor store and when I returned, I easily found my way into a game of Shithead. I’ve never been called ‘shy’ and this has helped me easily make friends in situations where I know no one.
The evening was fantastic. Turns out most people at the hostel were long-termers, meaning they’ve lived there anywhere from one month to one year. They had a sense of community and closeness that alluded to my Malta days and I instantly felt comfortable and knew I wouldn’t want to leave. I managed to drink and smoke my way until 5 in the morning when I finally crashed and burned.
The next day I wandered into the living room and found myself easily initiated into the group as if I’d been there my entire time in London. With a stroll and a nap during the day, I soon found myself staying in the hostel and drinking my ass off again in the evening. While I had only known these people for a matter of hours, I was convinced I should return, get a job at the bar downstairs, and live here, even if only for a few months. That’s how great it was.
My final day was bittersweet because I had to leave the hostel but was heading over to Becky’s for her birthday barbeque. Phil and his brother met me on the way and we got there in the early afternoon; just in time to start drinking. I had to bring all of my bags with me because I was leaving at 4 in the morning for the airport. I had already planned on pulling an all-nighter before catching my plane to Germany.
While the barbeque idea didn’t pan out because of the shit weather, the evening went off without a hitch. We ate, drank, and smoked beyond our heart’s content. I’d introduced the famous King’s Cup game and many rounds were played with me unfortunately drinking the cup. I’m happy to report after so many rounds with reminders of what the cards meant, I was not needed anymore. This means my American legacy will live on long after I go.
Right before 4 am came, there were still people up and partying and preparing to give me the best sendoff I had ever received. With a ten minute countdown, a spliff was rolled and the pink sparkling wine popped. I was given a to-go gift consisting of fresh hot pizza and a can of cider. By the time the taxi had dropped me at the train station I had just barely missed my train. Luckily I didn’t care because I was so fucked. So I just waited for the next one while continuing to drink and eat, and yes, I was alone (but not in spirit).
I somehow managed to catch my plane and when I landed in Germany at 10 in the morning I was still drunk. I was told I had ‘standarte’, which means wrecking of alcohol. I can’t help but wonder why immigration took one look at my glazed over eyes and let me through. Maybe that’s how I should have arrived in Ireland.
The story will end here, although the binge continued until nearly 11 that night. I’ve been in Germany several days now and already have plenty of good stories, but that will have to be another blog. I suppose I’ll attempt to be a decent writer and foreshadow or leave you with a cliffhanger or something like that. So know the next blog will include sex, prostitutes, and a wedding, although luckily none of those things are connected.
Epilogue: In case any of you were wondering about how Charlotte took my running out on her; not well. A couple of ridiculous emails later it’s obvious she’s still hurt and angry, and rightfully so. I’ve left the door to communication open though because while I felt it necessary to leave, I never wanted to lose her as a friend entirely. Maybe with time we can both forgive and move on. Maybe not. But you never know what the future can hold.