Nice. Sitting here on the sofa at Simon's house, one of my closest friends from Haiti. His lovely girlfriend Jodie (also in Haiti, and also bad ass) met me at the bus station yesterday after I took the Oxford Tube in from Marble Arch in London. So great to see them both. I didn't realize I was as lonely as I was. I do have people I know in London, but for whatever reason I opted to basically just do my own thing. I saw M twice. The first time was wonderful, as I wrote about earlier, but (and I suppose I should have expected this) it reminded me of why I love that girl so much to begin with, so when we saw each other again, only briefly, it was harder. I can't fake it with her, and she can see through it even if I try, so yea, coming back to an empty apartment was hard. Thank god for great friends. I spent the remainder of that day and night (and very early morning) talking to Max, Dan, Leslie, Cassie, and my brother via Skype. People I can turn to when things get rough. Still, at the end of the day, amazing friends or not, it hurt. London felt very heavy.
But then you make moves, and things shift around a bit. I saw my friend Miriam, whose apartment I was staying in, and that was great. Got to catch up with her about life and Yelp, my old company that she still works for. It was a lot of fun. Then I packed up all my stuff and headed out en route to Oxford. At the Marble Arch station this funny old man took an interest in me when he heard my accent - "Where is that accent from?". "American." "American!?" He was genuinely excited. So he stepped away from his walker, took a seat next to me on the bench and started to talk to me about his 'connections'. Apparently he had contacts in Mobile, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, and other places in the South. He had been to New York, so we shared that in common. He'd been to Las Vegas. Every time he mentioned a place he'd been in the US he asked me if I'd been there. For many of the places in the South, I hadn't. It is an area of the United States I really haven't covered much ground in. Every time I conceded to him that I hadn't been to a locale he'd been to, he got really excited. "You haven't! Hahaha! I have, I have my connections! I have my connections, maaate". That's how he said mate, a long drawling mess of a word that he used after almost every sentence. So yes, he had me beaten in the Southern department but as soon as he mentioned Las Vegas, I was in my element. The West is mine. "Have you been to Las Vegas?" "Many times." "Oh really maaate?" Now it was my turn - "Have you ever been to California? "No, maaate." "How about Oregon?" "No, maaate." "Washington? New Mexico? Idaho? Wyoming? Montana? Arizona?" I was clearly playfully teasing him. "No maaate. No maaate. No maaate." We laughed. He brought it back to the South. Asked some funny questions: "There was a war there right maaate? A big one right maaate?". "Yea, the Civil War." "That's it maaate! The Civil War! Who won that maaate?". "The North." "The North. Right. Right maaate." Such a character. I couldn't help but laugh. Eventually he opted to move along. I asked him his name. "Mobile, Alabama maaate." Perfect.
After a relaxing bus ride into Oxford I connected with Jodie, which was great. Such a big hug. We headed to the house she shares with Simon, in the Oxford suburb of Barton, and dropped off my bags then did a quick pitstop at a kebab shop (yes!) and a supermarket to grab some beers. I'd forgotten how rich kebabs can be. My stomach wasn't quite sure what to do. I've really not eaten a whole lot of heavy foods since Haiti. My body can't handle it the way it used to. To top it off, Jodie, being awesome, made bangers and mash, which I also devoured but definitely paid the price for it - an upset stomach for most of the evening. We settled in on a makshift bed of sorts we built in the middle of the floor out of sofa cushions, both of us exhausted - her from work, me from lack of sleep - and put on an Aziz Ansari stand-up skit I like. We laughed. A lot. It was perfect. Before too long we were both out.