Friday, July 31, 2009
Pluckin’ at My Chicken Feathers
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but my mom doesn’t fly. Or drive on the freeway. Or venture out of the western United States, Mexico and Canada. My dad happily complies with these limitations, which means that my childhood was a pretty darn sheltered one.
It also means that I am sometimes temporarily paralyzed when it comes to embarking on new experiences. The insecure, small-town chicken inside me pipes up and clucks, “That is scary! Don’t do it!” Which is, of course, my indicator that I have to do it—if only to get over the fear.
This was exactly the case when I considered going into central London by myself. What if I got on the wrong train? What if there was a terrorist attack and all the trains shut down? What if someone stole my purse? What if I got sold into prostitution? What if I had to pee and couldn’t find a bathroom anywhere?
I expressed these concerns to my dear friend C, and she said, “What the hell are you talking about? Knock it off and get yourself into the city.”
Although I still took the semi-chicken route (selecting a tube stop on the main line out of Richmond so I didn’t have to switch) I put on my big girl panties and took the train to Westminster for the afternoon. And it was great!
Two of the times I’ve been to London, I’ve tried to go to Westminster Abbey and it’s been closed. So when I came around the corner and saw its doors open, I was thrilled. What a beautiful place it is, the tombs of knights and royalty lining its insides.
One of the alcoves I went into was dedicated to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (not sure which one) and my heart just swelled in there. My grandmas’ names are Mary and Elizabeth and they were both queens in their own right.
But the very best part of the Abbey was the Poets’ Corner. I didn’t even know such a thing existed until I wandered to a portion of the floor covered with incredible writers’ names—Robert Browning, Chaucer, Tennyson, Dickens, T.S. Eliot. It was like stumbling through the pearly gates into writers’ heaven. And I couldn’t take a picture of it. Heartbreaking.
After I finished my tour, I wandered over to The Eye and did some shopping at a gift shop. The whole trip went off without a hitch. And as expected, when I told my mom I had taken the tube alone she gasped, “You did WHAT?”