Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pilgrimage

Last Saturday I completed the pilgrimage. I took a Southwest train from London Waterloo to Twickenham and got off the train at Twickenham along with countless others and walked, one of hundreds along what was clearly a familiar path: sidewalk tiles tilted sideways, scuffed and worn smooth by step after step after step… Little steps by little sneakered feet and big steps by big loafered feet and rocking lopsided steps by old men with canes and maybe one good foot and one bad foot and wobbly tottering steps of toddlers taking this pilgrimage for the first time, same as me, wobbling and tottering on their wobbly tottering feet.

Then, seated, sealed in the shade-bound south side among the frenzied fans, it starts. A grumbling, rasping roar; the first tremors in the ground before an earthquake; the wave forming irresistibly somewhere offshore, a slow swell still catching beachgoers by surprise despite the cycle being as old as time. This is a special music, the three-beat thunder, thumping, uncontrolled, contagious—HAR-LE-QUINS!—my right foot makes its shy humble offering: tap. tap. tap. It isn’t a teaming thrilling ecstatic scream but it meshes well with the choir. It isn’t the frantic flapping of flags, chequered fuchsia, grey-periwinkle, green, brown, black taupe—filling “The Stoop” with color, mysteriously missing Gloucester red and white, but it is mine.

I feel closer to home than I have in a while.

I steadily become more enthusiastic as I learn.

I leave, the proud owner of knee-high, stripped socks: fuchsia, grey-periwinkle, green, brown, black taupe.

Go Harlequins.


(Happy six months, Brendan. I love you.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Since Spain

A strange, extraordinary, astonishing, miraculous thing has happened. I have been reunited with Will since Spain. How in the last week have I recovered what was lost, that striking vital enticing amorphous hopeful motivation? Have I? Or is it the ephemeral honeymoon effect of learning to love my London?

Where in Madrid, in those tangled, sunny streets so reminiscent of my normal, ordered chaos, did I find him? One encouraging glance from him and my batteries recharge. Disbelief disappears as thirst is assuaged in a luscious flood by the Living Water, not appeased as with a black umbrella. My frustration with my peers has been overcome by this Will, has been replaced by this Will’s will to simply, steadily keep racing them all despite my former insistence that the results won’t matter, that I am a washed-up has-been. I’ve come to a realization: I think I was wrong.

I think I was wrong. A few days in Madrid and a few fewer nights and I discovered the treasure is indeed hidden where X marks: the red and white X on blue—my treasure of comfort, always at home and nowhere else. So London has become home, or at least a home, and it was a relief to return. London has become a familiarity rote, not comforting, but a familiarity nevertheless.

I think I was wrong. I had finally, blessedly, become at ease with the idea that pressing and pushing in classes wasn’t worth squandering happiness and relationships. I convinced myself that what I did didn’t matter because God would take care of me in the end. I think I was wrong. Not in that God would not take care of me, but that that meant I didn’t have to try. Such is Paul’s argument in Romans: just because you are saved by grace and faith does not mean you forsake the Law. Similarly, just because God will take care of me doesn’t mean I should forsake my gifts. Doing so brings Him no glory.

Since Spain, Will has revealed to me motivation. Since two two-hour flights and the sun’s shine life as its better half is back on track. I’m with a sense of urgency to clutch and grasp and grapple with that momentum before it rolls off without me. I stand on the edge of an unknown, waiting, but not asleep—waiting, anticipating, as a runner does in the blocks. I’m leaning forward straining fighting gravity I’m tense my fingers stab the hard, biting white lines on red rubber I must get every advantage possible before the gun CRACKs!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sirens and Snow(s)

London, you marvelous mix of old and modern, you patchwork of the centuries, bits built and rebuilt, layers upon layers—an onion, smelly-yet-sweet, or baklava, sweet-but-always-served-cold?

London, you hard cold rain, flicking your people’s faces with floods from the streets and flecks from the sky, you impersonal, callous cold.

London, you labyrinth of storied streets, asphalt over cobblestone, great homes and new squares replacing the old Roman roads, straight and sensible covered by a confusing chaos.

London, you loud, rude cacophony, you and your outrageous din, your lullaby of sirens.

Sirens go off in my head.

London, you heartbreaker, open to the world, closed to me.

London, you trail of strange landmarks steadily turning familiar, but familiarity rote, uncomforting.

London, you hide your passion, taunting, aloof—bidding me to come and seek and refusing to mention that it, whatever IT is, isn’t visible, isn't tangible, but is a feeling, an impression…

London, you sticky unsullied snow, deliciously gorgeous thick frosting, icing without the cake.

New York is cake without the icing.

Cali is cheesecake. Get it?