Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Day In The Life

Since I began my blog, I’ve had a few requests to write about my daily life. This makes sense being that a blog is somewhat of an online journal.
I guess I’m supposed to open a door to my life and give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be in my shoes. I like my shoes. I hope you will too. Admittedly, the soles are pretty worn out but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the moment though, keeping with the shoe theme- I would say that I’m wearing slippers. I’m in a calm place and it’s safe to say that my daily life is less eventful than it has been in a long time. Although, I’m not idle. I would never settle for inactivity.
I’m currently in England with my boyfriend. I have been back and forth for a while now- between England and the rest of the world. My best friend thinks that when I come here, I’m hiding. I may very well be. Hiding from what? I have yet to decide. I would say real life, but this is real life isn’t it? How do you define real life? I wake up, I eat, I breathe, I converse, I accomplish a few of the necessary evils, I endure all the human emotions one should go through on a daily basis, and then I go to sleep at night. However, when I’m here- it’s as if I put everything else on hold. Generally, as soon as I step off of the plane and into the left-sided passenger seat, I assume that I don’t have to bother with the rest of humanity until I board the return flight.

I receive e-mails from my friends, always asking, “so, how’s London?” Well, kiddos, hate to break it to ya- but I’m quite far from London. I understand the mistake though, for a Miami-raised, D.C.-educated, N.Y.-Bred cosmopolitan woman, there IS no England outside of London. I live in Gloucester- 2.5 hours from London. I’m here because my boyfriend is a professional soccer player and his team is close to the area. He has an adorable little flat in a renovated flour mill on the “Gloucester docks.” We have a spectacular Gothic cathedral nearby and some days when it’s warm enough, it’s nice to sit outside on the grass and listen to choir practice while reading a book or writing in my journal. In town, there is one nightclub and a Starbucks. (Who needs anything else??) We have a Top Shop and a gym within walking distance, which suits me just fine. I haven’t learned to drive here and I don’t really plan on it. Like most Americans (that don’t drive fancy foreign cars), I learned on an automatic and have only ever driven an automatic, unlike the rest of the stick-shifted societies of the world. The one time I attempted to navigate the opposite side of the road, I took down a fence and gave a sheep a coronary in Scotland. So I walk.
The Gloucester Cathedral
My days are blissfully simple. I take classes at the gym when I can motivate myself to dig around for my sports bra and then often meet friends in the Jacuzzi area for a tête-à-tête. The steam room is my favorite part of the gym experience- there are sparkling blue lights on the ceiling and David Gray usually plays on repeat. My only complaint is that the steam room and saunas are co-ed. I’m used to spas where I can just revel in my womanhood (naked, yes) amongst only women and the men can stink up their own steam room across the hall. I write for a few hours a day, sometimes on my laptop at home and sometimes in the coffee shop. I cook daily as well. I decide in the morning what ingredients suit me at the moment and then I Google recipes that incorporate the chosen components. I generally make new recipes in order to expand my repertoire while I have the time and by the second go, I perfect them. Rarely do I have culinary disasters but when I do, I have no need to feel ashamed about it because I’M IN GLOUCESTER- really, who am I impressing? Today I’m making a Mexican casserole, “Mo’s Mex Mélange,” (This is a title that I have kept to myself until now). It’s a recipe that I invented after deciding that fajitas are too messy and don’t involve enough cheese. It’s a favorite of my boyfriend and his friends and they have a game today so I thought it would be a nice treat for them once they return. I’ll post the recipe later.

I have some wonderful friends here as well. It took a while to cultivate this closeness and sift through the people I didn’t connect with, but after two years of being in this relationship- back and forth from the U.K, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve formed some lifelong bonds. Most friends are the girlfriends of some of the other players. My ideal occasions with them are generally Saturday nights when the boys have a televised game. We’ll meet up in the afternoon, do “girl things” and prepare the evening recipe. Then, throughout our animated conversations, wine-fueled music selections, and a general air of merriment, we’ll cook lavish dinners while we watch our boyfriends kick balls around on the television. We’ll laugh and oooh, ahhh, cheer and talk about how much we love them and how sexy they look in their kits (this could also be the alcohol talking at that point.) Depending on the results of their games, we know where our evenings will lead. After wins, we can usually expect to have them come home in good moods ready for a night out “on the town”- in the one club “in town.” When they lose, or when someone gets injured, the girls will go out on our own and dance and drink until the wee hours of the morning while our boys sulk at home eating the leftovers from our dinner. The bouncers and bartenders know me at the club- I’m famous. Last Saturday, when I walked up to the entrance, before uttering a word, the massive doorman perked up and said, “Ah! The American!”
I don’t think this is something I should be proud of- but it is what it is. That very same night, the boyfriend got a stud to his shin and ended up with stitches in the emergency room while I was taking shots at the bar. Oh well.
Alternatively, when the games are at home, we will bundle up and sit in the stands and cheer them on. These are my ideal days. I look forward to them all week.
The Docks at Night
Scrabble tournaments are becoming a preferred past-time for us. Being that it’s England...running around outside is far less appealing than playing board games in a heated flat- AND I received a scrabble board for Christmas! Therefore, we have “best-of-ten” scrabble championships where
the loser is required to buy the next round of groceries. I play so much that I see lettered tiles forming words when I close my eyes at night, but I am pleased with the knowledge that I’m gonna kick Nana’s ass at scrabble for the first time in my life when I see her in Miami this summer. That’s reason enough to book a flight home.
Being in England, in “hiding,” I also have the opportunity to read a lot. I haven’t read this much since completing a literature degree in college- and I’m truly enjoying it. I just finished “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards which was beautifully written but wasn’t one of my favorites. I closed it feeling a bit sad and not very enlightened. I’m now reading Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty,” which is fantastic thus far. I’ll revisit this when I finish it. Maybe I’ll create a book list or something since I’m always giving friends and family recommendations anyway.

My big event today, in addition to the ordinary happenings, was going to be my first attempt at dying my hair out of a bottle. I am a natural blonde but have been getting highlights since the age of 18. And as anyone who frequents the salon knows- once you start, you can’t stop. I like getting my hair done- makes me feel good. And I don’t really pamper myself in other ways- so a day at the salon is in fact my only indulgence. I usually get highlights every 2-3 months depending on the time of year.

At any rate, I’m trying to condition myself to live more cost-effectively in preparation for the next two years when I will once again be a student with minimum cash flow. I’m moving to Spain in August to begin my MBA and will thereafter have no expendable income for quite some time. This doesn’t upset me; I see it as a challenge and am looking forward to it. Back to my point- I walked into town- it’s a beautiful day today, 11 degrees C and sunny (no I will not convert to Fahrenheit... when in Rome!) I stopped for a Starbucks latte to-go and got in a slight altercation with a local teenager when he said to me in a vulgar cockney accent “I like your fcuk me boots, wanna fcuk me?” After setting the little delinquent straight, I made my way to Boots (the English equivalent to CVS or Duane Reade) and spent about an hour in the hair-dye section going back and forth between permanent and wash out, golden blonde and platinum, deep conditioning and shade enhancing, and the list goes on... The abundance of choice could drive a woman crazy. I eventually settled on L’Oreal Feria Color 3D, Metallic Blondes with Color Booster Technology PO1. Please don’t ask me what any of this means, I just thought the girl on the front of the bottle was the prettiest. (I know, I know- I should know better than to 1. Judge a book by its cover and 2. Let advertising affect my purchases). ANYWAY- I practically skipped home with my blonde in a box, beyond excited to frost myself, when my anticipation was dashed by an e-mail from my mom stating in massive bold lettering, “ DO NOT DYE IT OUT OF A BOX- YOU WILL END UP LOOKING LIKE A CHEAP BLONDE- TRUST ME! YOU WILL NOT BE HAPPY!!! GET PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS, WHATEVER THE COST. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LISTEN TO ME- JUST DO NOT DYE IT OUT OF THE BOX!!!!”

So that was the end of that.

And there you have it- a day in my slipper-footed life. I can’t really complain.

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