Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hugs & Kisses

I frankly adore London, needing only to look around to become nearly giddy with inexplicable delight. Given that today was spent playing to my strengths – discussing research projects and potential value and topics that I’d spent my academic career considering – I felt rather lovely. I have a bit of a crush on the head of the lab, made only worse with contact in person and leaving me near a swoon when he kissed both my cheeks before I took my leave.

I found all of them fascinating and lovely, giggling at stories, enjoying Chinese around a too-small table for lunch and chatting about complex topics and long-term dreams.

I sighed, happily enamored, as I settled myself in the backseat of the private car which would, courtesy of my colleagues, transport me to Heathrow. Like the cab ride in the morning, I sheepishly dug my camera from my bag to capture photos of the city, feeling hopelessly charmed and fascinated.

“Are we taking off shoes?” the man behind me asked as we inched forward in a painfully long line at security.

“I don’t know,” I replied, grinning at his American accent (which I’ll admit I first identified as a lack of an English one). “There doesn’t seem an obvious pattern.”

“I can’t figure it out either,” the man – this one younger – in front of me said, also clearly American in his speech. Even as I smiled politely at the man supervising the loading of bins, obediently settling my jacket over my laptop and moving through the metal detector, I thought that while I’m positively thrilled to be visiting, I’m no less happy with where I call home.

Germany is wonderful, I'm sure, but I haven't quite realized it yet. My hotel - the only one recommended by a colleague - hasn't the ambiance or charm or bathrobe and slippers of my previous temporary residences. I had a moment of panic on the plane at the first German I heard spoken, taking inappropriately and oddly back to filmstrips in school of WWII. But I've made it safely. If I didn't sleep well and face my Wednesday exhausted and a bit grumpy, I'm sure I'll see something pretty and be happy again soon enough.

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