I was just missing London, sort of, where I've been once for pleasure, and for something like seven weeks for business. But I wasn't missing the Eye or Veeraswamy or the chicken wings at the Japanese place near the Sanderson or even walking through St. James Park on my way to the office from one hotel, or how I'd always try to pick a different route to and from the Sanderson from and to the office. I can remember fondly the feeling I got when someone would ask me directions, and I could help them, but I'm not missing that, or even the feeling of heading in from Heathrow (although with all the traffic on the A4, it wasn't anticipation that was the prominent feeling there).
I'm remembering the ride back to Heathrow. More specifically, I'm remembering the moment the car came up on Harrods. I'd gone with the missus on my first visit there, and it was the last landmark I'd recognize on my way out of town, and the last part of town I'd know I was in. Harrods is in Knightsbrige, and then what? Well, Kensington, but I'd never been in much of it, and not on Brompton Road, which is what the car was taking out of the city. Passing Harrods was goodbye to London, and some kind of forlornness related to whether I'd ever return, even when I knew I'd be back three days later. Maybe on those occasions, it had to do with a return to routine back home. Maybe I was thinking of Veeraswamy, subconsciously, but it was more feeling than thinking.
The feeling is of a piece with my feelings about Amsterdam. I've been there three times -- the last two alone, the first with a "friend" with whom I got along so famously, I opted to spend the last half of our week there alone. Amsterdam was my first trip outside North America, and still kind of envelops my prototype feelings about Europe. And when I decided to treat myself to nine days of vacation, by myself, I decided to spend a couple of days in Paris, and 24 hours in Brussels, having never been in either city -- and five days in Amsterdam. Again. And I was lonely there, and I enjoyed it very much. Maybe most, I like going to the Dam, the big open square in front of the Royal Palace, hard by the Nieuwe Kerk. I always go in winter, and I like to go to Dam Square at night. Short of maybe captivity, I think there must be no easier place to feel alone.
This is all somehow related to how I felt when I started The Suffering Channel, the last story in Oblivion, the last book of DFW's that I had yet to read, and realized I would never begin another DFW book or story in a DFW book again, but I'm not a deep enough thinker to put my finger on how.
Anyway, I wish I were in London. I'd like to get about three orders of those wings.
By: cliff bennett
2 weeks ago