Detroit, Detroit; Hampstead Heath; Yellow/ Cliff; Shadwell Swim

I take pictures everyday and my phone dies because I need to use the map all day and I am not able to keep up with what I see. But it keeps up with me. I feel like taking pictures everywhere and then going to Facebook to see that the day hasn’t begun in the Midwest. This makes for a long stretch, a noodle (everyone laughs in Bologna when I use the word “noodle” instead of “pasta”), a noodle that feels like it’s going to break.

I tell Lenora, “There are real differences! There are real differences!” I am so emphatic about it, like I never believed until now that there are real differences (which isn’t true–I mean it’s not true that I didn’t believe it, nor are differences a matter of belief). But I hadn’t felt them in that way until then: being both so far from home and not actually realizing what “home” is.

This is a theme on the postcards, maybe, that I sent and the ones that I haven’t. It’s also so obvious to everyone but me because I got a tattoo of the theme, which continues to surprise and re-present itself for interpretation, as it is a conversation-starter.

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I know this is going to sound stupid, but I didn’t realize it would mean talking about Detroit with strangers.

“So, you’re from Detroit?” And then some people don’t understand what it says underneath. “Defrost?” And some people say what the tattoo says without realizing it, “Oh, you’re from Detroit, Detroit . . .”

*

My last day in London–this won’t be the last post I make–my last day in London was pretty much perfect. If only I hadn’t spent the morning packing and thus cutting short my time at Hampstead Heath, where I could have got more heat rash than I did.

*

I grab a sandwich and a Coke (I almost never drink pop in the States. I think I drink pop here because it feels American). The guy working the little coffee/ food stand at Westcombe Park Station is good at his job because he knows just how long it takes to warm up a ham and cheese sandwich and this just the amount of time I have before I have to catch the train. He asks me about my Detroit tattoo. He says he knows that place because isn’t that where Eminem is from. “Yeah.” “So did you grow up near him? Do you know where his house is?” “Well, I think his childhood home is boarded up and I don’t know where he lives now . . . He’s a pretty interesting guy, though, I think.” “Yeah. He’s white and rap is mostly black and I think he’s a good rapper. Oh your train is here. I’ll cut it in half and then you’ll have to run.” “OK. Thank you! Bye! Have a good one!” I’m not sure people understand what I say when I say, “Have a good one.” I haven’t heard anyone in the UK say this, but it’s one of my favorite ways to depart. I find myself wishing, too, that I’d asked the guy where he was from.

There are so many people in London from so, so many different places and this is intensified by being on the train for hours everyday. An hour out and an hour back and usually more than that because I take more than one roundtrip.

*

I read Morrissey’s Autobiography on the train and look around a lot. It is both fast and slow reading because I’m at the part where Morrissey complains a lot about Rough Trade records and it’s really boring. Some of the best parts of the book are when he describes music that he loves and I remain taken with the first sentence of the book, which I’ve repeated countless times: “My childhood is streets upon streets upon streets upon streets.” I didn’t go to Manchester, which is where his childhood is. I opted for Brighton instead because it is closer to London and there is sea there. But back to Monday.

 

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1. Hampstead Heath (soooo English!)

 

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2. The Ladies Only Pond (soooo lovely!)

 

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3. At a beer garden, I try to try draw a picture of the first Nick van Woert sculpture [left] you see at his current exhibit at MAMbo, the pretty fabulous Modern Art Museum in Bologna. And someone who draws better than me draws a picture of a cliff at Cornwall [right].

We meet at the pub at 2:30 after I’ve been laying out in the sun and taken a very, very cold dip in the pond. (I’m just too colloquial for lying out). I have a Pimm’s with lemonade with mint and slices of orange and apple. The mint is really refreshing and the drink is served with a bendy straw. (I think all straws in England are bendy straws). After Pimm’s, there’s a move to drink Lavender Hill beer. There is some time spent reciting Laurie Anderson and discussion of the role of reflection or mimesis and interpretation in psychoanalysis. I share my theory regarding what “love” is in “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on the train.

 

 

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4. I meet someone, this time near Shadwell, for a second swim at a secret river basin. I ask if it’s really secret and they say yes! It’s for members only and it turns out, we are the members! And there is a speaker in a wagon attached to a bike that is playing what else? British punk and no-wave, which is so lovely to have that feel close and local somehow as we slide into the cool-but-not-as-cold-as-the-ponds water of the Thames.

*

It’s too much to recount how I, then, in a sun plus beer plus last-day-in-London fog ride the train back to my kind and generous hosts in Greenwich and Rihanna’s song about finding love in a hopeless place comes on through the shuffle.

*

I wake up in the hotel room near O’Hare at 3am and continue to try to think through the fantasy of finding love in hopelessness, wondering what the intrigue is specifically around the extreme of love plus hopelessness. And does this mean finding hope in hopelessness and why that? This bends back to my theory about “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which I’ll have to get to next time, just like “Philosophy in Erection,” which had something to do with being torn apart, too, as Catherine started off that talk about being in between and thinking that’d be pleasurable but finding it more complex than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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