...Back in the U.S.S.A.
Before leaving London, we did our best to say farewell appropriately. Meaning, we begrudgingly topped up our Oyster cards and painted the town red.
I don't know that I mentioned the End of Term Party on 3 May, but I must. It was fabulous, though the food was not much to sniff at and really was a poor attempt on ISH's part to stuff me full. Aside from the lack of food and nearly cheese-less mozzerella sticks (gasp in horror!), I enjoyed the effort of the London Center to put together such a great event for everyone. There were raffles (I won an orange Bill bag!!!) and prizes and recognitions and a slide show which Bill narrated. Artie K, a fellow student, DJed while we danced the night away; Bill and Maggie even danced with us!
Sunday day, the girls from downstairs and Jessie and Meg and I went up to Hampstead Heath for a picnic in the park. The sun went away once we stepped out of the tube, but even though it was cloudy and windy, we had a fun time anyway. Later that evening we went down to enjoy waffles for the last time at the Waffle House (the original) and splurged on the best combinations we could come up with, paying in change so we wouldn't have to lug coins home in our already too heavy luggage. I got a waffle with strawberries, bananas, Belgian chocolate and whipped cream, if you're wondering. Everyone stayed in our flat for a while and, one by one, we said our goodbyes. But just until Ithaca in August, of course.
Just Jessie and Meg and I remained on Monday as everyone had left early that morning. We packed and brought donations to ICLC and bought last minute souvenirs and spent a lot of time waiting around for the landlord. He finally came and gave back our deposit minus a 40 pound cleaning fee and another 40 pounds to paint our bedroom wall. Here's a tip: Don't ever use blue-tack on your wall. Meg and I looked along Queensway for someone who would cash the check he gave us, but to no avail. We changed the money part, and wow, did US dollars look so new and different.
After the landlord left, we complained a bit over drinks to finish up all the alcohol donated to us by our loving already-gone friends and headed out for our last walk along the Thames for a long long while. We stopped at Young's Founders Arms, where they serve Double Chocolate Stout so Meg could try it, and hung out until last call and we just barely missed the last tube ride home. But, phew!, we made it.
Jessie woke us up at 3am as she headed out to Luton for a flight to Germany, but we really woke up at 6 for our own flight to the States. I'm not a big fan of luggage, especially 100 lbs worth on the tube in two awkwardly large bags and far too many stairs. Thankfully, nice British men took pity on us a few times and lugged them up and down stairs for us. Gatwick was all a twitter with our impending departure - everyone would miss us! - and we ran into a few minor problems with them letting us go. The flight was better than coming, only because Continental had nicer seats and more movies to choose from (even though they weren't new ones) and the food tasted better, but the TVs didn't actually work for the first hour or so because of some issue in the system. Doesn't that make me feel safe flying over the ocean? Anyways, we got into the country without a hitch: Border time = 1 minute, baggage = 5 minutes, and declaring at customs = half a minute. Nice. It felt good to be home. And to have someone to help with my too much luggage.
As I was working yesterday, I found myself taking a little too long to count change and, because the sandwiches there are all named after areas and streets here and in NYC, I kept thinking of tube stops and places in London. I even said something cost pounds today at the store! (Though, thankfully, it was in dollars!) Ah, jolly old London, I'll miss you. Hopefully I'll see you soon. :)