Time To Start Thinking About Lasts

I went to Staines yesterday.

No reason, just…felt like getting out of the room. Staines has this particular quality to it, you know? It’s kind of like going to Harvard Square. It takes just enough time to get there that you don’t feel like you’re just “around campus” but it’s also close enough so that you can run back to your dorm when it starts getting dark and you’re craving the comfort of solitary confinement.

I go to Staines more than I go to London. Which, I suppose, is a bit of a no-brainer, since it takes about twenty minutes to get to Staines and about…an hour and a half to get anywhere in London. But as a study abroad student (and a girl, i.e. shopping) I should really be hitting up those Southwest Trains more than I have been.

I like Staines. It’s comforting. It’s relatively small, just one street of shops. There’s usually a market around, but nothing more exciting than that. But there are enough places to go that people can’t really find you. Not that, you know, anybody can find me anywhere on campus to begin with, but it’s still nice to be somewhere out, where I can watch people and not be watched.

Back when I first got to London, I went to Staines just to get away from the obligatory conversation. The “So, where are you from”s and “Who are you with”s and “What do you want to do”s and “Where do you want to go”s. Which, forgive me if I sound ungrateful, is fine with one or two people but just gets old after a while. Fake smiling takes a lot out of you. I’ve been good with small talk in the past. Making conversation just for the sake of making conversation. But the difference with the past summer adventures and this semester one is that you’re not living in close quarters with the same people every single day.

I mean, yeah, you share a campus with them, but unless you go out and make an effort, it’s kind of hard to see anybody, anywhere. Same thing as when you first started college, I guess, except at your specific college, there’s a whole lot more you have in common with everyone than you do here. I mean, here, the only thing you really have in common with everyone else is your propensity for alcohol, and since, you know, I didn’t, and don’t, have any…it was a bit of an issue.

I’m rehashing old problems here. The point is, I used to run away to Staines when I wanted to get away from the obligation of having to turn down trips to the pub (I know, I know, ungrateful, and I’m happy they asked me, but it was getting awkward saying no every time. I did go once, remember? It was just awkward). I’d also go if there was friend trouble brewing back home, or, you know, lack thereof…

I remember sitting here one late Friday night, because everything was closed except the McDonald’s and I didn’t quite want to go back to the dorm yet. So I bought a pack of fries and just sat. And sat, and sat, until my iPod batteries ran out.

And then I went home.

Yesterday was just another one of those days. You know, when nothing’s wrong but nothing’s really right, either? One of those heh-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life days. So I packed up the Kindle (don’t worry, they’re schoolbooks loaded in there, not novels), my cell, and scurried on over again.

And what’s a trip to Staines without a trip to H&M? It’s become one of my favorite stores, not because it’s particularly awesome, not because I love the style so much (I noticed a highlighter-yellow tank top yesterday. Not just neon, but  highlighter. I know it’s this spring thing and all, but really? Highlighter yellow?) , but just because it’s the one store that is comfortable to be in. Every other place is either really stuffy (TopShop, cough), or they judge you (New Look, River Island, I’m looking at you).

H&M is just laid back. Nobody gives you a second glance. You just kind of blend into the clothes.

And then I got to thinking…this might be my last time at Staines! I mean, I have finals on Monday and Tuesday, and then another one on Thursday. And after that I hope I’m going to be out of here, to Athens or someplace I haven’t decided on for definite yet.

And by the time I get back on the 29th, I have some errands to run in London itself, plus I want to finally check out Primark once before I leave. And then I’m back out for Paris and Tours, hopefully, before it’s the sixth and I have to start packing for the trip back home.

And I mean, sure, I probably won’t have much to do after exams are over so I might just head back just for the hell of it, but I might not, you know? It’s weird thinking that there’s going to be lasts so early. It’s one thing to have a “last” in a vacation spot like Bath or Penzance, but to have a last somewhere I’ve already thought of as home for the past five, six months is kind of weird.

I’m noticing a bunch of mundane things now, like going to do the laundry and where I keep my student card. I always forget these little details, but this time I have quite a while to get ready to leave. Which I suppose isn’t a bad thing, leaving, since despite everything London wasn’t…you know. Heartbreakingly fun (a difference of experience and people, in my opinion), and I’ll be back, I’m sure, but it’s still nice having a while to say goodbye.

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