It's raining outside, pouring, actually, and my pants are soaked to the knees. My shoes have turned into galoshes, except instead of repelling the water, they seem to have absorbed the entire contents of multiple puddles.
I'm reliving my Stratford days. Except I'm not in Stratford-upon-Avon, but rather, reminiscing down various streets in London. I can't believe it's been 6 years.. what I wouldn't do to relive those days. The greatest time of my life. In some ways, I feel all traveling is an attempt to recreate or recapture that time.. when everything was so vibrant and life was nothing but a stream of possibilities.
It's funny revisiting that now. I'm older, but not that much older. Can't say I'm all that wiser, though I've picked up a thing or two in my foray into the real world. And yes, it feels good to be back, but I'm finding it's not a place that a memory makes. What's lacking are the people. That, and the fact that our beloved Drury Lane Moat House has been converted into a Travelodge. A Travelodge!
As I'm wandering down the streets of Covent Garden and Leicester Square, I'm flooded with images. There's the Drury Lane theatre where we saw My Fair Lady (and sweated profusely in the unventilated balcony). They say it's haunted, or so says M. Sasek in his book "This is London." I love M. Sasek. Said production has since shuttered and Oliver! starring Rowan Atkinson has taken its place. The open air market and Molton Brown are still there, untouched by the recession, but I'm really quite dismayed to find not even a trace of Eat My Handbag Bitch.
Around the corner, past where we saw that discarded heroin needle, is the market. To be 21 again and falling over into gutters in front of corner markets at three in the morning (you know who you are) and discovering Topshop for the first time..
Moving on to Leicester Square, there's the intersection where I'd be accosted with 'konichiwa's and 'ni hao ma's. Last I checked, I was still Korean, but what can you do. And ah, Oxygen. I find it comforting that that tourist trap of a club is still there. Gives one a feeling of solidarity, of continuity with the past. A breath of fresh air, if you will.
But ultimately, it's the feeling of not sharing this with good friends and classmates that settles in. Of watching plays, jumping in fountains, and of stealing digestives and custard creams off the room service carts.. These little memories are what I hold on to as I'm walking down Drury Lane in the pouring rain.