Here I am, at Luton Airport, 22:33 of the 26th of June 2013.
This is the very end of my first year as a University student, in the UK -well, let’s make it sound less tragic: in England. In Broadstairs. In a 1000 people campus. Now, that’s better.
While I was waiting for the coach that took me to London Victoria, earlier today, an old lady sat on the bench beside me. She was out of breath after walking up the hill from the supermarket halfway to her house, so she took a moment of rest. We chatted for those fifteen minutes before my coach arrived: she is the loveliest lady. She told me about how she has been living in Broadstairs for the past 55 years, seen the town changing and the shops closing down, organised local events and seen the weather becoming colder and colder (“We won’t have a summer”). I was so glad when she moved in for a hug, as soon as we saw my coach approaching; and I even hope I will meet her again, at some point.
This year there have been so many people who I have only met in one occasion, for a couple of times at most, but that have had some impact on my way of thinking. However, as everyone who knows me can confirm, I am easily impressionable…
But those people I am talking about are the ones that, in a way, caught my imagination.
The very first one, in chronological order, is a shop assistant in Tesco I have met on my second day in Broadstairs. I had gone shopping to get some lunch and, at the till, he asked me -which is a routine procedure, apparently- if I wanted help packing my bag. I had no clue whatsoever about what he had just asked me, so I tentatively went for a “…no…?”, at which he replied, clearly to my benefit: “Yeah, thought you could do it yourself” smiling and handing me a plastic bag. Now, this seems a totally stupid fact to remember, but it did mean something for me. I have such a simple mind, really.
The day after, I went to church. I wanted to do something, to meet people in the area, and at the same time to find myself in an environment that was more familiar than shopping centres with only two shops I had heard of, or a deserted high street. And there I met the nicest man, B. I have met him more than twice ever since, and every time meeting him puts a smile on my face, because of his ways: he is relaxed and calm, yet attentive and witty. I will admit that I have gone back to that church a few more times just to have a small chat with him, as his only presence worked as an ‘antistress’ factor on me.
That same Sunday everyone was moving in and the first one to arrive in my block was K., a lovely lady I have only spent that afternoon with: we went to watch the football at the campus bar, but it was not broadcast, so we had a chat about out expectations of Uni and sports in general instead. It is a pity that I have not spoken with her properly ever since, but that little chat was the best thing of that week, since I had been pretty much confined in my room! And, yes, it did make me a bit more confident about my abilities to understand people around me (…even if that confidence was soon to be blown away by the first group conversation with my new flatmates. Don’t worry, I will produce a post ad hoc about that)!
Then there was a boy I met at Broadstairs library: we just had a quick conversation on a few novelists’ merits, but that was cool -and it was also the very first occasion of the year for me to debate literature with anyone. So cool.
A particularly nice meeting was with a girl from Dublin I briefly discussed Joyce with, while stewarding at the Graduation Ceremony and debating the utility of an Events Management course; it definitely confirmed my aspiration to go visit Dublin as my honeymoon. Also, at all the Open Days and Ceremonies in both Canterbury and Broadstairs I have always had very interesting meetings: from the lovely young applicant whom I discussed our dream-house with to the retired physics teacher I talked about the Universe with, everyone told me something interesting. I wish I had more arms to jot down all the things that impact on my imagination!
The person who gave me the most reasons to clutter my arms with writing was B., a volunteer guide of Canterbury Cathedral: the most knowledgeable guide ever, she even answered to a few of my questions in French. And she definitely knows how to debate columns and history and all the cool things that I am interested in -I will be back to the Cathedral on as many Fridays as I can, between noon and two.
Another very special memory is dedicated to S., a Spanish girl I met when spending the night at Gatwick Airport, who patiently waited for me to remember the little bits of Spanish I had learnt so far, taught me enough swearwords to go by in Madrid and discussed the perks of Italian cuisine with me. It was the funniest night I could have ever imagined to spend at the airport!
Also, last but not least, there are all the ladies I have met at the supermarket or at different bus stops: all those conversations about the weather were always enlightening, and so were the advices on how to cook a ‘toad in the hole’ and various puddings. They all cheered me up!
This may have been/this may look like a long, boring and meaningless list of people, but it was not meant to be -and it is not, for me. Also because it is now 1:29, so it took me a while to think about it: I would not define this big effort useless! Anyway, I have a feeling that I would end up being pathetic if I kept writing about them, so I will just leave it, for now. But, if any of those people recognise themselves in someone I have talked about, well, thank you =]
Oh my, iTunes just decided to let me listen to ‘London Calling’. It’s not like every single friend of mine would keep sending me that song before I left in September, just because I had my moment when I’d go crazy for The Clash and because it has London in the title… still, in the words of a dear friend, “I would marry my iPod right now”.