The morning after a blissful night of binge drinking and terribly irresponsible fun (Bon Jovi: The Enabler), I awoke in a bed I had never slept in before, in a city I really didn’t know my way around very well, with a hankering for coffee that was all consuming. I also had a chain gang of tiny men taking up residence in my head, banging away at the insides to make way for a very small railroad apparently. It took a few moments to get my bearings, and then trying to see through the fog of my hangover I had to solve my missing sock problem and figure out how to get to where I was supposed to be. Which in this case was over an hour away at a train station in London I’d never been to…
Third Day in England ever! Woo! I’m awesome!
With the internal motivation and encouragement aflame I set out into this new world with aid of my bed buddy and was lead, ever so sweetly, to the train station in Brighton. Ugh, such lovely shoes… I said goodbye and promised to come back again sometime, then headed off on a train that I figured would get me to somewhere in London. From there I told myself I’d find a way to meet my friend at St. Pancras once I arrived.
I was all happiness, adrenaline and left over alcohol up to this point, but once I got settled on the train I seriously felt like I was going to die. My head pounded, I had no idea how few hours of sleep I had actually managed to get, and my stomach was starting to preform some very acrobatic gestures in there. My only care in the world at this point though, was to shut off the world and try to get some sleep. I would worry about London when I got there, I would worry about finding her when I was able to walk again, and would focus all of my energy on not defacing any of the surprisingly comfy upholstery.
The trail rattled onwards towards London. The morning countryside flew by without my notice and I slipped gracefully into a state of non-existence. Beautiful nothingness. Suddenly and all too soon, the train began to slow down with jerky motions and I was jolted awake and knew it was now that I had to hold myself together. I’m sure I was getting some rather strange looks from the morning commuters with their tea and newspapers, but I sincerely hadn’t noticed and wouldn’t have cared either way. Which says a lot about my condition.
I waited in my seat once the train stopped and was the last to disembark. Breathe….in through nose…out through mouth….in through nose…out through mouth….repeat…. It was surprising how difficult it was to preform this very automatic bodily function. I quickly taught myself to walk again and was thrust out into the growing crowd of Londoners. The smell and thickness of the air was what I think did it. That coupled with the lack of breathing room triggered a signal in my brain that I had been all too familiar with. I needed to get to a loo, and fast.
I desperately looked around, up and down the platform for that small sign that would promise a respite from extreme humiliation. It was that or risk my life and neck and lean over towards the tracks and most certainly get escorted out of the station forever. I looked and looked, trying to choke back any premature guttural spasms. And it was then that I saw it. The Toilets, in white letters on a blue sign. It was beautiful and a hot sense of relief washed over me. I might have relaxed a bit too much, because my sense of urgency increased once again. I ran towards it, pushing past the commuters and encountered the makings of my worst nightmare. Bloody women’s loo’s! There was a line…There’s always a line. The woman in front of me informed me that I’d have to wait, and the queueing master she was, doing a fine job representing her country and it’s cultural stereotypes, made sure I knew it.
I couldn’t wait, there was no way, and what happened next I had no say in…the colour escaped my face in a single moment and my insides heaved and twisted. The sink was close enough and did a fine job for the task at hand. I, in an instant, had horrified the entire population of the woman’s loo, and changed their feelings for me indefinitely. My stomach contents, having mostly consisted of alcohol, weren’t much of a problem for the sink, save a few slices of onion from the spag bolo the night before (lovely, I know). I was rinsing and fishing out the onion like the polite Canadian I am, when the queueing master behind me spoke up in a very concerned motherly tone.
“Are you alright miss?”
My response to this has always made me secretly proud…
“If I said yes… I’d be lying…” I said sniffling into the sink.
“Is there someone I can call for you?” She asked, genuinely concerned. I imagine she believed it was more serious than the violent yet typical hangover I was dealing with.
“No, I’ll be fine thanks…I’m sorta new around here.” I was thinking about it, and the rock solid Nokia in my pocket wasn’t even mine, I didn’t know any numbers, and the friend I was staying with was two hours away and at work. I’m such a clever girl sometimes. Geez.
“Well take care of yourself dear…make sure you get some water and rest soon.”
“Thanks, I will.” And with that she went about her business, surely telling everyone at work that she ran into a poor American that couldn’t handle herself at the train station. She would be wrong of course, on two counts.
I felt refreshed after the whole ordeal and wasn’t as humiliated as I should have been. The task of finding my way to St. Pancras was now ready to be dealt with. I would fail utterly at this as well.
I ended up waiting at Charing Cross…
The moral of the story is, if one’s body is experiencing a state of distress, it completely destroys any feelings of shame.
Miss Hailey Jane