... my waking thoughts.
Never mind that I haven't gone to McDonald's in a really long time, and never mind that I swore I wouldn't go there unless absolutely necessary (i.e. stuck in country where no restaurants have edible-looking / recognizable food), I really wanted an Egg McMuffin.
Realizing that breakfast is only served till a certain time, I got myself out of bed, spent 3 minutes trying to put a sweater on (since my arm is still not working right), and headed out of the door.
When you live in the basement of a building, it's very difficult to know what the "real" temperature is outside - you always dress for cooler weather. So it was a very pleasant surprised to realize that on the 29th of October, I only needed my sweater and jeans - no jacket.
Humming Hey Beautiful Day, I make my way towards Bayswater Road, smiling at the sunshine and breeze rustling the trees (still with all of their leaves) in Kensington Gardens. People are all hurrying around me, as usual, making their way to the Tube station, running to catch the double decker tour bus, or meeting friends at the coffee shops with tables full of people enjoying a late breakfast outside.
Protected by the cover of my sunglasses, I do a little people-watching as I walk, noticing a pair of girls (who look 16) walking unsteadily in their wrinkled party clothes towards Starbucks, a smiling Indian restaurant owner standing in his doorway (he spends hours there) trying to convice people that curry makes a good Sunday breakfast, and a woman who resembles Naomi Campbell in a tweed jacket and oversized sunglasses. Briefly, I look down at my shadow, realizing with great pride that it looks smaller than it has in years, and wonder what people are thinking when they see me.
A girl with somewhat messy hair (windblown and not brushed very well), a brown & pink sweater, jeans that are a little too big, sunglasses, and a hint of a smile. Friendly? Tired? Or maybe somebody who's in a rush to get a dose of grease & salt to cure a hangover?
McDonalds only serves breakfast until 10:30am. It was just after 11am... On to Burger King, where I've also heard the breakfast food is good. They too disappoint me by not serving breakfast anymore.
I've always thought that if they pushed their breakfast hours too even 11:30am, that they would get business from people who slept in because they were drinking the night before. 10:30am is much too early - the only people in the streets are families and couples who probably have kids in bed in the stage where they sleep till noon. These people want the posh breakfasts, Starbucks coffee, maybe a little shopping, then a tour bus ride to the City, where they'll see Westminster Abbey in the morning sunlight, and perhaps partake in a tour of the Tower of London just in time for Halloween.
Funny how the people in the park on weekends are usually my age, sitting in groups in the grass, sharing coffee or wine or beer (depending on time of day), or jogging with a cute dog beside them. These posh people have no idea what they're missing. But I digress...
Deciding to make my own McMuffins, I wander into a market, get the necessary ingredients, then realize that I want a coffee and that the instant brand we have at home is not going to do the trick. I make my way to Starbucks, where every table is full of people looking tired but happy, and join the line of people waiting to order their drinks and breakfast.
The line takes me past a beautifully lit display of cakes, muffins, and other goodies that I know I don't really want, but are so delectable looking that I find myself ordering two blueberry muffins to go with my cafe mocha.
Carrying my bags, I ignore the slight pain in my right arm, take a sip of very good coffee, and make my way through the growing crowds on the Queensway towards home.
Everywhere there are tourists: lugging suitcases, carrying pets or children, buying miniature statues of Big Ben and "I got Smashed in London" shotglasses, posing with friends in front of bright red phone booths and double decker buses, and studying maps of the City as though they're written in Greek (now that I think about it, some of them probably are).
The sunshine and warmth in the air seems to have a calming effect on everybody, so nobody pushes through groups or gives the people who stop dead in their tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to look at their maps dirty looks - not like you see on Monday mornings. People move out of other people's way. People smile at each other. Today, even the air smells sweeter.
I take several deep breathes and glance at Kensington Gardens, wishing that I hadn't just bought bacon and eggs, because they wouldn't enjoy sitting in the sun like I would. Promising myself that today I will spend some time in the park even if Jeremy wants to stay home (he's got that cold too), I keep on walking.
This morning, when I trip on the uneven pavement (this happens more often than I will admit in this blog), instead of getting irritated, I smile to myself, hold my head up high, and wink at an elderly couple as I pass by, feeling happy that I didn't spill my coffee.
In this moment, there is nothing but sunshine on my face, a warm breeze through trees slowly turning golden, and the taste of chocolate and coffee. In this moment, I am happy...