Category Archives: London

The Loves in London

In front of the Tower Bridge

In front of the Tower Bridge

Brian and I have discussed several times the guilt we feel at not being able to speak the language of whatever country we are traveling through. Whenever we’d attempt to use a ticketing machine or an ATM we’d always muddle our way through until we figured out how to change it over to English. Signs read bright and boldly first in Hungarian, or Greek, or Croatian and then, captioned in small print below, English – clearly identifying us as the tourists, the outsiders. How odd, it seemed, to have that guilt and suppression lifted from our shoulders as we landed in Gatwick airport and followed signs for “baggage claim” and “exit”. It is a simple thing to be able to read an exit sign – but the feeling of freedom was far from simple. We lived, for the past ten months, in countries where “Uitgang, Sortie, Ausgang, Salida, Kijarat” meant that we had to pause for a moment to figure out even which door to use. That basic principle of “push” or “pull” was instead “nyum or hoz”, “empurrar or puxar”, “drücken or ziehen”, so we’d stand there for a moment looking dumb pushing on a “pull” door. How strange to be in a country where all those minor struggles that had made up our lives for the past ten months were gone. Where at least the reason we pushed on a “pull” door was out of stupidity, not lack of language skills. It seems silly to be rejoicing in stupidity over which way to open a door, but it meant so much to me to make a mistake on my own – rather than the prohibiting fact that I couldn’t read the sign on the door.

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