April 20, 2010


I am in London, caught in this limbo. The circumstances are peculiar; on still days the ash hands low on the horizon, a gray curtain over the city. Foreigners listlessly wander; at a tavern outside of the British Museum, we met two other groups of Americans stranded by the volcanic ash. Everyone talks, sharing hearsay and legitimate news. We discuss contingency plans: Frankfurt by Parisian train? An overnight to Madrid? Days revolve around evening and morning airport announcements. Heathrow, it sounds, reopened tonight. Now the waiting game, as thousands of limbo citizens attempt to escape to the continent, or the States. The sense here is that of a blackout, when the bets are off and everyone aimlessly wanders from their homes, unsure of what to do in their lightless houses. I always loved that as a child, and later, in Santa Cruz. Neighbors who never spoke spoke, sharing speculation about downed trees or failed grids, clustered on the cement corners of my suburban neighborhood. And in Santa Cruz, we gathered on the front porch, drinks and tea lights in hand, to chat with our neighbors and watch the people gather. It's all very odd, really. We haven't been detained for very long yet, and London is a pretty ideal place to be marooned. We see Billy Elliot the musical, which we wouldn't have had time to do before, and become all too familiar with our underground station, Lancaster Gate. My parents do laundry at the laundromat and I return to my room every night to find the blankets turned down and the curtains pulled tight shut. I buy a red Marc Jacobs wallet and wander through the Egyptian wing of the British museum, examining cat mummies and taking pictures of a flock of elderly Chinese tourists gawking over the sand-leathered body of a young Eqyptian woman, body curled with skeletal hands over her face. It is all a dream, anxious and surreal.

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