Sooooo... there was a hurricane. You know. As happens.
In the middle of the night, the heavens opened up and the gods decided to do their best to drown the entire city in our beds. I mean, buckets. Cats. Dogs. Sheets. You name the metaphor, it was falling out of the sky. Upon waking, it was still going without an interval in sight.
There was a moment of truth as I sat there in my teeny little kitchen that morning. I had groundling tickets at The Globe to go see a sold out show of Anthony and Cleopatra with my classmates. We had been planning this for weeks. THIS was supposed to be The Big Field Trip with this gang of people I loved so much. And the weather was the pits. I sat there, watching the skies... waiting... just waiting for some sign. But as the drop dead deadline for when I needed to catch the train came and went and the water was still falling, I had to come to terms with the fact I am old. And standing in the rain for three-and-a-half hours to watch theater, no matter how much I wanted to watch the show with people I wanted to hang out with, was just not in the cards. The Fates were against me. How Shakespearean.
And of course, a 1/2 hour later, the rain absolutely stopped. *shakes fist at sky*
So, I decided to make the best of the situation and ride my train one stop north to the Camden Locks to see what all the fuss was about. Figured if this was merely the eye of the storm (and surprise! It was!) I could at least swim back to my dorm.
I emerged from the Tube station and I swear to god, it was like the 2000s never happened. Here was the Land of the Late-90's that time forgot! This was my home in the East Village! This was Friday nights in NYC! THIS! And I had to go to London to find it.
I wandered down the street, peering in at all the cheap (and not so cheap) street fashion, the slimy jewelry tables, the music shops, the... well, every shop that you might want at 2AM when you've had one pint too many and find yourself deciding now would be the perfect time to buy matching rose colored sunglasses and a $60 "sterling silver" rings with your BFFs (I still have those rose colored glasses). It was freedom and fashion statements and grit! And I loved it.
The locks were in full swing with several boats traveling upriver. If only they came about 1/2 hour later, the water would have risen that river itself. But it was great fun watching the locks raise and lower, bringing the barges on their way.
I crossed the bridge and started browsing the stalls. Like Stockholm-syndrome, suddenly I NEEDED that crocheted lace overshirt! I NEEDED that bad smelling veggie dyed wall blanket with the fairies and trees on it. It all made sense! It was so right! What was I doing with these meaningless bits of paper in my pocket when I could exchange them for street crap! FILL ME UP WITH THE CRAP!
The rain started coming back and I stepped into one of the covered shopping halls where there was a beautifully carved staircase.
The entire place whispered seductively, "You need these bad bootleg CDs... these touristy iPhone covers... this leather purse shaped like a hedgehog with metal spikes..." A small Asian woman was able to talk me into buying a rolling suitcase with Big Ben and a badly printed rose on it. You know. Because what I needed in my life was something which really screamed, "I'm a tourist!"
So, I found myself now walking around Camden Locks with a suitcase. And two fairy themed wall blankets, because there was a sale, and I justified that I'd use them on my table at a booksigning (note: I will not be putting these things anywhere near any of my books at any booksigning every in the history of mankind). And a crocheted overshirt that I've worn way too many times for someone my age. But there was water all over the ground, so now I had to carry this suitcase with all these items inside. But I was really hungry and all I had back at my dorm room was some cheese, so I decided it would be a great time to get some curry.
But now I'm eating this metal tray full of curry with a suitcase balanced on my feet with a purse over my arm and it is just getting to the point of, "Not fun." So, I decide it is time to get moseying. Except the rain comes POURING down again, and I have to hightail it into another sweltering, sticky indoor market and suddenly decide it makes PERFECT SENSE for me to purchase some "sterling silver" street jewelry with "real" mother of pearl and marquisette.
I don't even care what you say. I freakin' love this ring. It cost me a bajillion dollars and I will wear it TO MY GRAVE! Or until the metal causes an allergic reaction and my finger falls off from the gangrene.
As I was talking to the girl at the booth, she asked me where I was from and I said, "Seattle" and she said, "Oh! Nirvana! And like... grunge!" And was like, "Pearl Jam!" And she cocks her head and looks at me all confused and asks, "You like grunge, too?" Child, I was there when grunge was born. Get off my damn lawn! And leave that flannel shirt you're wearing "ironically".
So, the rain FINALLY stopped. Again. And I made another mad dash towards the Tube station, and happened across this alleyway with this INCREDIBLE graffiti art.
Mine you, I am not a fan of the graffiti. I lived through the 80s already. I shouldn't have to do it again. Graffiti, to me, is like musical theater people in high school who felt the need to sing in your face in the hopes you'd smile and say, "Wow! You're so talented!" as opposed to, "I just need to get to my locker..." Get yourself an art gallery and stop trying to force your crappy talent on people. But this graffiti? I'm down with this.
I continued on and discovered the red-headed stepchild of Camden Locks. The Locks that no one talks about. The locks that they pretend aren't there. The REAL locks.
Not really. I'm just making stuff up. But it amused me that there were people lined three deep to look at those other locks and this one? I was all by myself.
I kept going... and discovered the closest Tube station was closed and I had a six minute walk upstream in front of me. So, I'm walking along, and suddenly I happen up this shoe shop. I don't think I can begin to describe this shoe shop. It was just... well. You should click through. You think you've seen everything, and then you walk into a place like Irregular Choice and realize that you have not, indeed, seen everything.
And you want to know the best part about being a grown up? The best part about leaving those days in the 90s behind and growing in to the woman I am today? I can buy whatever the heck I want. Even if it is shoes with a four-inch plastic deer holding up the heel.
THIS, my friends, is what it is all about.
And so I took my deer-heels and, with an elegant ringed hand, pulled my rolling suitcase behind me as I waded my way through a hurricane onwards to my little dorm room and all the cheese that waited for me.