Every so often, an introvert needs to take some time to just be. I love my travel companions dearly, but I knew that with London coming (and some close quarters for our final home) I needed some time today to embrace that introvert. So while Greg and Nicole headed for an early tour of the York Minster, I decided to take a late morning and meet them there. I slept in a bit, enjoyed a quiet breakfast while watching the news, and set off to meet them in the Cathedral.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. We've had internet basically everywhere on this trip, even in random places around the cities where there seems to be government wifi available that you can sign up for with a UK zip code. (I've always said that mine is USA ZIP. #lifehack!) All the same, you start to feel the inconvenience of not being able to text and call on days like today when it would have been really nice! My introverted morning led to a day of waiting around.
I managed to find my way into the city (not all that well, truth be told. I was fine going back to the flat but got a bit turned around on my way in - I ended up wandering all over central York in the rain. You'd think it would be easy to find a cathedral in a city, but it was surprisingly difficult! It was hard to see over all the buildings in the shopping district.) I did manage to get my bearings, though, and found not only the cathedral, but the chocolate shop. This is very important. I left with three more bars to take home. (The US seriously needs to figure out how awesome violet chocolate is. It is the BEST.) I went into the cathedral (rather rudely jumped the line of people waiting to pay, but I'd paid for admission yesterday and the ticket is good for a year) and did a fast loop of the building in an attempt to spot Greg and Nicole. No dice. They were nowhere to be found. Knowing that their tour ended at 11:00 and thinking that they would probably head back to the flat to look for me, I walked all the way back to the flat. Problem: I had no key. There was one key for the flat and I had sent it with Greg and Nicole. I rang the bell but they weren't there. How I'd managed to walk the half mile in and out of town before they did and without seeing them I couldn't figure out, but I sat down on the doorstep to read Anna Karenina on my phone until they came.
About an hour later they showed up. From there, we grabbed our bags and hauled them the quarter mile to the train station. Remember: I've purchased seven books since I came here. My light bag is not so light anymore. We got on a train and arrived in London two hours later. More luggage schlepping. Then more sitting on the doorstep as we had arrived an hour before our hosts were due to arrive home from work. Even after they arrived we had the most confusing light rail to Underground transfer I've ever experienced in London. Poor Nicole (it's her first visit) is under the impression that figuring out the Underground is impossible. It's really quite easy...everywhere else.
Not the best of days, all things be told. Even dream holidays have days that are annoying and not wonderful, but I suppose I'd rather be stuck outside houses in England than, say, camping virtually anywhere or grading papers or cleaning up hair balls from my cat, so tomorrow should be better.
Oddly enough, what really made today worthwhile was the creepiest play I've ever seen in my life. 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre was an absolute dream of a show. It was technically amazing and so wonderfully artistic that I don't think I'll ever really comprehend what I just experienced. If you've read 1984 then you know how frustrating it can be to read over the course of at least several hours - imagine condensing that experience into just over an hour and a half with no interval (intermission). It's insane. My head is still aching. On the way home, one of the escalators we were on had painted footprints on the right (to remind you to stand on the right so that people can walk on the left), but all I wanted to do was shout "You can't tell me what to do!" really loud at the sky.
The play did a particularly excellent job of not just telling the story, but making you feel it. I left as confused and overwhelmed as Winston, which, I think, was the point. I don't think that story will ever stop frustrating me, or making me think and re-think what I do and say and believe and follow and trust. Isn't that the mark of an excellent story? So often the world (especially the one in which I live) wants to suggest that the best (or most "wholesome" - don't get me started on the use of that word and what it actually should suggest) media (usually watered down to "entertainment") is stuff that makes you feel good. But sometimes isn't it good not to be merely entertained? Aren't there things that we should experience and consider that should make us uncomfortable as we think about what we are as individuals or as a culture? Shows like 1984 remind me of my favorite quote about the arts, attributed to Handel after he wrote the Messiah. "My Lord," he said, "I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I want to make them better." Tonight, 1984 made me better. (Confused and overwhelmed too, but better.)