Exactly a year ago today my friend Emily and I met those British guys I've written about quite a bit before, and because I'm a sack of sentimentality I thought I'd mark the occasion by telling the story of that day. Over the past year, I've had to field the question, "Oh, how'd you meet them?" from many, many people when they find out I met authentic, genuine British people. And frankly, while it is one of my favorite stories, it is also fairly lengthy (at least the way I tell it), so I want to just get it out once and for all. So now, if anyone asks me that question, I can snort in derision, say "You so obviously do NOT read my blog," and walk away in a huff.
The day my school group left for London, we were all sitting in JFK waiting to board the plane, Emily saw me reading Mockingjay and we began a conversation. She brought up that she knew a YouTube gathering was going on in the city the following Saturday, and I invited myself along. From pretty much that point, the two of us were kind of attached at the hip, so much so that people in our program thought we were friends prior to the trip, but that's neither here nor there.
So the following Saturday, our first real free day there, Emily and I met up to head over to the gathering location, near the London Eye. Of course, we were still new to the city, so we took two different bus routes to get there, and that method meant it took us about an hour to get there. A little later, we would figure out the convenience of the Tube, and were able to get to the same location in about ten to fifteen minutes, so that's a tad embarrassing. We arrived at the location, which is called a "park" but is really just an expanse of grass by the Eye, at the right time, but the thing about these gatherings is you don't really know what the people you're meeting look like. Or we didn't, at least. So we spent the next hour wandering around the area, looking for internet-y looking people. There is a stretch of sidewalk by this park that is a common place for street performers and those weird people who pretend to be statues (which I have SO MANY problems with). Because it was Saturday, it was really busy, and while Emily and I were caught up in the homeless magicians, Statues of Liberty, and tourists, I ended up giving ten pounds to an old lady "for the children" aka "for the crack addiction."
After an hour of aimless and unsuccessful wandering, we eventually spotted a group of 15-25 year olds that looked promising. Now, true to form, I was too intimidated to go up to them, because we still didn't know for sure they were the right people, and you can't just go up to strangers and ask, "Hey, are you from the internet?" But that's pretty much exactly what Emily did, adding on a, "Hi! We're American!" for good measure. The next hour was spent avoiding akward silences and bonding with the guys and the occassional other person who would amble over from the other group that had collected there. One of these was a young girl from Ireland who, very loudly, shared with everyone a mark from where a guy had bitten her. About this she said, "Don't worry, though. I bit him too. I kind of have a thing for that."
I was extremely uncomfortable.
After that the whole group decided to move en mass to the the nearby Waterloo train station to grab something to eat. On the way over, Emily and I tried to work out which guy was which (I think for the first few hours I was convinced Greg was Josh) and asked them the in-retrospect possibly stupid question of if this Waterloo was THE Waterloo. After some discussion and a group decision that it wasn't, the five of us left the big group to go to the station's Starbucks because Emily was cold and wanted a hot drink. After realizing the cafe was in an open-air part of the station and hence almost as chilly as outside, we sat and bonded some more anyway. As I went to check that I still had the American money with me just in case, Greg insisted I show it to Josh, who had never been out of the country. As he stared at my country's currency he said, "Wow, it really is green."
Yes, Josh. Yes it is.
We then met back up with the others long enough for everyone to decide to just disperse for the day, and the guys then took us across the street to a pub, mine and Emily's first in England.
zwwzwwwwppwwwzzzzz- that's me fast-forwarding through some embarassing moments you don't need to know about.
We bonded, it was a good time, people broke out smart phones and friended other people on Facebook. After taking another retrospectively-embarassing long time figuring out how to get back to our flats, we finally left.
We then saw them about once a week for the next four months, until we flew back to America. And that makes the comment Ben made on Facebook that first night, that "we should hang out one more time again before you guys leave" slightly hilarious.
Now, we all know I hate emotion, so I'll just say they're cool people and it's possible I miss them and I suppose I don't not love them.