Grumbling under my breath, (of course this would happen to me!) I stomped through the cold, trying vainly to get my bearings. Twenty minutes later, I had to admit I was lost. Looking around at the few houses, I got a bright idea. Finding the one with the most lights still on, I took a deep breath, marched up to the door and knocked. It opened to reveal a young man about my age, his expression a mixture of astonishment and “Wow, a girl at my door!” “Hi, I am so sorry to bother you, but I’m lost…can I use your phone?” “Sure,” He made a quick recovery, “come on in.” I rambled on, wincing inwardly as my presumption and the image I saw on a nearby mirror. No wonder he was surprised, I looked like I had just tramped through miles of brambly thicket instead of a few foggy lanes! Once I mentioned who I was trying to find, he immediately said he knew where they lived and could give me a lift. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Where I come from, this would be the point where you thank the stranger politely, back out of the house and run for the nearest police station. But no, not here.
So, once I arrived safely, yes, safely, at my destination, I was barely able to exchange pleasantries, down some soup and catch a bit of that show about Indian weddings before dropping into bed, glad -for the gazillionth time now- to be dry, warm and have a comfy pillow on which to rest my poor, wandering head. The next morning saw me trying to decide what to do next: go into town with Auntie…or finish homework. Needless to say…I did both! As she had already made an appointment, we stopped to see a musician who had agreed to record some music for her to practice with. He was, apparently, quite famous, and -rather more obviously- quite hung-over, a fact about which I teased him mercilessly. To my surprise, and Auntie’s amusement, he seemed to enjoy this attention and was evidently “quite taken” with the sassy, back-talking girl from America. Well, they do say there’s not accounting for taste…In any case, it turned out to be a very eventful day, meeting virtually every shop owner -Auntie was friends with them all!- in town, frantically doing homework in short spaces of time and being reunited with a cousin I hadn’t seen for years.
After finally getting my homework in, I could look forward to the next big step in my adventure: conquering London again. This time though, I was not going to get lost…or stay in a random guest house…or miss my bus. No, I was going to be prepared and efficient, visit a university and for once, not worry about where to stay that night. As if. Actually, it didn’t turn out to be too bad -though I could see pretty quickly that the school wasn’t for me-, there were some blisters -thanks to those tough-girl boots- involved, and some more desperate-sounding phone calls, but on the whole, it wasn’t a bad day. I met yet another Auntie (what’s the count now?) took a few buses to South London, the one place so far that reminded me of Chicago, and could, once again, relax from my adventures. A football match, (the real kind, where you kick the ball around?) and a few episodes of X-Factor later, I’m on the bus again, this time to see yet another cousin. This time however, she was not only my age and not stuck in the utter wilderness (beautiful wilderness, but still!) but living in a bustling university town with cinemas, libraries and…boys!