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After calling Nadina and subsequently dropping off my bag at her flat, I decided to wander a bit (with my map, of course!) until she got off work. Instead of the hoped-for bookstore, the path led to the fashion district. Fish out of water indeed. The phone rings. It’s Nadina. She asks where I am.

“Walking past Hugo Boss toward Sloane Park.”

“DON’T MOVE. I be there in five minutes!”

So there I stood. The short, fat American in front of 20 ft. window posters of European male models in bikini briefs. I made it three minutes on the busy sidewalk and then eased on over to an empty bench in Sloane Park.

“JCheff!” I finally hear, as she bounds over and practically leaps into my arms. I had visions of Tigger and Pooh.  Just like old times. We hug for about a minute before she takes my arm and starts dragging me down the street, peppering me with questions about ElizaBeth, Kaleigh and gossip about Natchitoches. My, my do we really have three years to catch up on? When she left Natchitoches, EBeth was about 7 months pregnant. So much has happened since then.

Before long, we see a beautiful older couple walking toward us. Nadina gestures wildly. “This is what I will look like when I get old,” she says. “We should all be so lucky,” I said.

The couple turns out to be her parents, who arrived in London from Argentina about a half-day earlier than me. They are the kind of folks you meet and instantly know they are good, loving people. We know where Nadina gets it now.

Back to the flat now, the ladies are making a spaghetti supper while Mr. Reussman and I–two men with accents AND auditory perception disorders–have been trying to converse. Luckily, Nadina’s friend Rob has been here. He’s a conservator here in England and knows a little Spanish. It’s a fun evening.

Stepping into a new reality

After finally tracking down a ticket agent and getting my oyster card, it was off to the tube, Picadilly Line to Knightsbridge. The ride is about 45 minutes, with stovepipes and roofs flashing by. Emerging from the station at Knightsbridge is like walking into a Harry Potter movie. The energy really is magical for someone who rarely explores big cities. Adding to this is the fact that Herrod’s is right next to the station gate and boy is it massive. Tons of people from every nationality. Wherever I look, EVERYTHING is impressive and obviously very old.

For some reason, the trip made me ravenous. Stepping out of Knightsbridge, what should I see, but a McDonald’s sign. A very sensible British license plate version of it, mind you, but a McDonald’s sign nonetheless. Yes, my first meal in London is at McDonald’s (they have free WiFi, even). What an American I am!

Now that my cholesterol about four points higher, I’m about to take the advice of Norman Weiss (hmm, N.W. should start a conservation blog with that title). There’s a Carphone store across the street, so my plan is to buy the cheapest phone they have and get it “topped up” with however many minutes 15 pounds gets you. I need to call ElizaBeth to tell her I made it, and Nadina to find out where they heck her flat is.