Saturday, September 29, 2012

A lot in a day

I almost wanted to start this blog off by saying that nothing all that exciting happened today. Maybe that's because I was feeling humble, maybe because my little brain had forgotten all that transpired in the past 24 hours. But whatever it was, it was wrong. I was wrong. A lot happened today.

This morning I didn't want to wake up. And it wasn't in a looming doom sort of way, but more in a "why did I go to sleep at 1 am when I had to be up by 8?" sort of way. There's something about being in a foreign city on your own without having to take classes quite yet that makes you the laziest person of all time, and the most groggy.

But I'd already decided I'd be up early, so I stuck to my guns and opened my curtains to the sunny day while stinging my eyes in the process with the intense brightness. From my previous experience, this is not typical London weather. But it's welcome on a day that I would be trudging up and downhill and through a muddy heath where John Keats once tread.

Despite not having much planned, I knew today would be eventful. I'd either be turned down for a volunteer position at Keats House or be planning exactly when I'd be visiting there again (and again and again for the next few months).

I really had no idea what was in store, though, did I?

Now that I've built up the anticipation, you'll likely be disappointed. Possibly because you already know what happened or simply because I've made you too excited considering the level of awesomeness that you will be reading about shortly. I apologize for that. I hope that's not the case, but even if it is - know that I'm pretty excited, and hopefully even if the feeling is unwarranted you can relate in some fashion.

It was mid-morning and I was very casually walking to Keats House for my interview. The main drag in Hampstead is one of the most pleasant and beautiful streets I've ever encountered. There may be traffic - on both the road and the pavement - but it's the kind that feels homey and lovely. As I moved downhill toward my destination, I saw a woman talking to her children and fumbling around a bit. I didn't think much of it, but having a tendency to pay a bit too much attention to the goings-on around me, I looked at her face.

With just a glimpse of her, I knew her instantly. Upon further examination, it became even more abundantly clear. The eccentric clothing, the fascinatingly coiffed hair. This was Helena Bonham Carter. It couldn't be mistaken. I was walking past Helena Bonham Carter.

I tried to play it cool. I made subtle moves to try and look back at her as I passed. But trying to appear nonchalant, I kept moving.

Still, when I got to Keats House I couldn't help but bring up the incident. Within conversation, I learned that it is not unheard of to see Carter walking around Hampstead on occasion. And perhaps seeing celebrities in general in the area is not unheard of either.

But since the celebrity I was most interested in connecting with was John Keats, I focused in on my primary goal. After securing the volunteer position, I took the afternoon to walk around Hampstead Heath. I sat on a bench overlooking a pond and read The Marriage Plot. I immersed myself in the story, however distracted I became by the whistling and chilling wind that passed through my coat and onto my arms and legs.

Once I'd made it back to central London and back to my flat to prepare for what I'd planned to do later in the day, I started to become nervous. Walking past Helena Bonham Carter was one thing, but I had decided a week ago that I would be going to the stage door of a play where Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter) and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams from Doctor Who) would be exiting from a play I'd seen them in yesterday.

I'm not the kind of person who enjoys being starstruck and chasing people with big names. Sometimes it happens just by fate - like when I bumped into James McAvoy in London last year - but when I'm organizing it I always feel a sense of guilt. Like this is something I shouldn't be partaking in. It's too frivolous and silly.

At the end of the day, though, having the chance to go from seeing Helena Bonham Carter gallivanting around town to visiting my favorite place in all of London (Keats House) to meeting actors who play two of my favorite characters from television and film is still something worth celebrating. So much so that I've devoted an entire blog to it rather than actually creating a gripping personal essay about some issue that has been bothering me lately (I'll save that for a more depressing or uninteresting evening).

The real defining moment of my day, though, was when I was walking around the Heath and listening to the soundtrack to Carousel on my iPod. Something about the combination of the London weather, the children and their parents walking around, the beautiful untampered-with nature and the soft crooning in my ears made me feel like the world could never be better.

Even on a day when literally nothing could have gone better, it was a little sliver of a moment like that that really made it something special. And if I'm going to remember anything about September 29, 2012 - I think the strongest of those memories will be of my tears of happiness as I realized what a great moment it was.

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