Friday, December 16, 2016

The Bali Reunion in London

Will and me in London - St. Paul's Cathedral in the background
Shot by Daisie
In Camden Town, London, I moved my arm, which was on the table, from the table to my body, while the metal music was blasting from downstairs, and when I did so, I spilled Ericka's glass. The beer poured all over the table and onto Theodore's crotch; it looked like he wet himself. Erika demanded a new beer. Will said, "Good one, Paul." The table laughed.

I looked at Theodore and said, "I'm sorry." He laughed and said, "This hasn't happened in awhile." He started laughing. He put his arm on my shoulder and said, "No worries. Let's get another beer."

We were sitting upstairs. Ludo and Eleonra came back to London, to see me and other friends. I really pushed for Will and Daisie to come. We all met a year and a half ago in Bali. And I really wanted to see them again. So, we all had a little reunion, at a metal bar, in Camden Town.

Eleonra's best friend, Ericka, a pretty blonde, also lived in London. She brought her friend Theodore. Will brought his friend too. I can't remember his name; I just remember he came from Liverpool. And I would make fun of his accent and say in a high pitched voice, "I"m very Liverpool."

He would say, "OH! OH! Like I haven't heard that one before."

Then he would say, "Oh my God," in a valley girl accent, "I'm from Los Angeles."

Will would say, "Come on, Paul. Let's go down for some smokes." Will's friend and I went outside. They would smoke. It was cold and drizzling outside, a typical London night. They rolled their own cigarettes because they couldn't afford the commercial ones, which are highly taxed.

Then I'd tell his friend, "You know, in Los Angeles we have running water. Do you have running water in Liverpool?" (If you don't get it, youtube a Liverpool accent. Yes, it's a proper city, but they have such a strong country accent.)

He swore at me. And when he finished smoking his cigarette, he flicked the butt against my coat. The cherry burnt a thread. I smelled it. And he swore at me again. Then we all started laughing.

When we returned upstairs, Ericka said, "It's our turn now." Then they went downstairs to have a smoke.

At the table on my left, there was a chap, who looked nice and normal enough, except he poured out of a tube some white powder. He poured some on his thumb. He snorted it.

I asked, "What's he doing?"

"Coke," someone from my table said.

He snorted a few. He kept scratching the inside of his nose. Someone from my table said, "Can I have some?"

"No," he said. "That's all I got." He joined his friends. He kept scratching the inside of his nose.

We stayed at the bar until they closed the upstairs and kicked us out. We had to say goodbye to Will and Daisie and his Liverpool friend.

Then, Ludo and Eleonara had to go back to Italy. I hugged them. I was going to miss them. I said good bye Ericka and Theodore too.

I went back to my hostel alone to sleep at 03:00AM. The hostel manager and I argued. He thought I was breaking in. I was not. Then, I immediately tucked myself into bed and went to sleep.

* * * *

The next morning, I woke up at 10:30AM. I cleaned myself up and went to the war museum in London, where I learned a lot, but it's a topic for another day.

Around 04:00PM, Will and Daisie text me and say to come meet them. They just woke up. Around the same time, Ericka told me she just woke up too and if I'd like to join them.

Will, Daisie and I walked around London and caught up. I never forgot the two. Even though they can be like an old couple, I always remember their sweet and compassionate hearts.

In Bali, I was down and stressed on my first night. They were in my room. They took a liking to me. I told them I was too old to travel with them. I was 32 then. They refused to believe it. I told them it was the truth.

Then the two kids said I was going to travel with them, and that was the end of the matter. It was on the trip, that ten of us met and some of us stayed in touch. Then ten of us spent 10 days together. I was always grateful to them that they forced me to come and bled the sadness out of my spirit, which brought a new life in me.

Daisie, Will and me sitting on the art gallery floor
As we walked through London at night, we caught up on what happened over a year and a half. They're artists too. Daisie is a painter. She likes to paint vaginas now; she said it makes her feel free. Will is an illust rator.

I see a random guy passing by. I take a photo out of Daisie's newest vagina painting. I ask him what he thinks of it.

She says, "Paul!!!!"

I remember what the Italian lady told me: My face is my ass. (It means you have no shame.)

We find an art gallery, still open, along the River Thames. We all look at the art. Then, eventually, I sit down with Will and have a chat. There are chairs at the gallery, but I'd rather sit on the floor. So, he sits on the floor. Then, Daisie sits on the floor. Then we all chat.

I feel like we're in the television show Skins, which is an English show about the outrageous lives of teenage Londoners. It's something the characters would do. Sit on the floor of an art gallery and discuss all of life's problems. So, I have Daisie take a picture of us. Too bad Will and I came out blurry.

Then, Daisie says she's hungry. They both tell me they have no money. I lecture them on how they're being wasteful with their spending.

They both say, "Yes, Mum. We know."

I sigh, breathing out hopelessness. I don't even know why I tell them this. Are they even going to listen?

"Come on, then. We're going to China Town. I'm buying you cheap Chinese food. You two need to eat."

So, we walk to China Town. I ask Will, "How do we know, when we're at China Town?"

He says, "Believe me, you'll know."

When we arrive in China Town, there's a great big and ugly Chinese gate. And I said, "I think we're here."

Will says, "I would say you're right."

We find a cheap Chinese place. It's 5 pounds per person, but we can't eat inside. So, I buy three. We then decide to go to Leicester Square. We find somewhere to sit, but the stone we sit on is cold. We eat our food. We watch all the hustling and bustling and busy people. It's cold outside. When we talk, clouds of cold smoke fume from our nostrils and mouth. They finished their food. I finish half of it and take the rest to my hostel.

 We walk back to my hostel at Oxford Circus, which is an amazing location, in central London. After we finish, Will and Daisie take me through the dark and dirty alleyways to get back. I saw things, I shouldn't have seen.

As T.S. Eliot once wrote:

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...

When we get back to my hostel, I go to my room. I get them their gifts.

I give Will a rare book on American cartoons. I give Daisie some American cashew chocolates. I tell them how I wish we could have had more time together. As the poem says, And indeed there will be time . . . Time for you and time for me[.] But that time will not be now, I think.

She says, "I know," in a bit of whiney way.

Will says, "Come back to London."

"I guess I'll have to."

I give them both a hug. I walk them out.

The lady at the front desk, who is from Italy tells me, "I almost felt like crying, when you said bye to your friends."

Well, that deserves a chit chat, I thought. So, I talk to her a bit, until I know I can go back to my room.

When I go to bed, I think to myself, I wonder if all this was meant to be.

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