Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Very Beginning

You probably want to know what I've been doing. Let me begin by saying three things:

1. I am very fortunate to be where I am.
2. My grandma, grandpa and uncle sit in the outer flap of my purse at all times.
3. I have no idea why I'm here.

I've spent more than three weeks now dipping my toes in the water of independence. Independence from what? From papers, from the grips of reality television (Dating in the Dark, I miss you so much...) from bills, from rage. I somehow managed to trade in everything and put the most important bits in two red backpacks.

So far, I haven't managed to lose anything. Two pairs of pants two skirts, 4 sock pairs, 6 underwears (underwears?), four pairs of shoes - at least one of which will not be coming home. An arsenal of over the counter drugs, a makeup case, a charger case, a sleep sack, and I suppose I did bring some shirts...etc. What have I bought? Unfortunately nothing for you so far. I bought a shirt at a Portuguese flea market and two light paperback books. Now you know what I've been up to.

But the very beginning?

I got on a plane. You know all of those times when you sit in your solo plane seat (which I manage to do even when traveling with family) and all of the good looking young people walk straight past you and sit in the seat behind you? Well, the gods of flight spared me, because the best looking British gentleman in the airport plopped down right next to me. This was unfortunately unfortunate because I spent most of the flight running my mouth with nervous chat or sleeping with my mouth open. But I took this as a good sign, that I didn't sit with anyone smelly or with awful teeth picking habits.

In London, the woman at Immigration grilled me about my plans. It just wasn't going to fly with her, to say "I have a one way ticket and I have no idea when I am going to leave." So I made up a story...that I had a flight out of Europe on October 29th (giving myself a month buffer from my real kicked-out date.) I started to worry that I really did have no plan.

On the Tube I took up three human spaces with my backpacks. I arrived at my hostel. My room was eight bunkbeds with funky orange-red curtains and equally funky thin carpet. It was exactly like Girl Scout camp, except I missed my friends, though I did make some new ones.

The following are excerpts from my journaling about London, England:

"One of the best parts of traveling alone is that I have no one to yell at when I get hungry - this leads me to believe that I probably had a choice all along..."

"Already I have had conversations with several people I probably never would have talked to - Iranian woman outside of St. Paul's, awful and angry drunk North Irish guy, and the Canadian/Asian girl who claimed she would eat anything and then said no to Chinese food, fish and chips, vegetarian food, lamb curry, etc." PS - that was hilarious.

I kept walking past things I maybe should have seen. I took a photo of the tower of London and then walked away. I walked around the free parts of the Globe Theatre (ie. the gift shop) and then walked away. Parliament, schmarliament. Buckingham Palace, biggest disappointment ever (you call that a palace?). I did pay to go into Westminster Abbey - best 12 pounds I spent in those four days. I mean, I stood 3 feet from Queen Elizabeth I. The free audio tour wasn't bad either.

What I really did in London was start to figure out how to be alone. How to see a museum alone, how to eat lunch alone, how to approach a new group of people alone. I got a good nose-ring hold on my instincts - like saying no to the white Hawaiian pothead when he asked me to go see a free anarchaistic "cabaret" show in an unknown district of London. No thanks, kid, you give me the creeps. Went to Notting Hill Carnival alone, only to find that it was like Picnic Day on international steroids, being held in a swanky neighborhood where adults with babies in front-carriers jumped up and down to techno music while spraying beer everywhere and then peeing on someone's formally nice porch.

I decided to meet Tyler in Barcelona,and of course, almost missed my flight. Almost had a heart attack on the bus to airport, because the bus driver was so slow I almost missed my flight. Almost had another heart attack running with my backpack to the terminal, and then another one when a man with giant poles slung over his back turned and decked me in the nose (to which his elderly mother said to me "You shouldn't have been standing so close!") And thus, the beginning ended.


  1. Living vicariously through you....been having dreams of traveling like you..wish I was you! LOVE YOU...MOM

  2. Hi Caitlin. We wish you well and miss you. Hope your having a whole new adventure on your trip. Love you lots!!!
    Karen, Steve and Annie

    p.s. I( annie) wrote this :) love you!