Friday, April 20, 2012

Kissing my way across the UK: Liverpool

It wasn't just my first trip out of the country (we don't count Canada as international travel), it was the first of a lot of things. With the exception of a brief day trip in my bosses Cessna, I'd never flown anywhere. My planning was meticulous. Every tiny detail had been planned months in advance. Small town Angie was about to become International Angie.

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Looking back on it, purchasing my ticket six months in advance seems a little silly, but I wasn't taking any chances. I wasn't going to risk one of the kids needing clothes or food in the future and spending up all the money I'd saved for this once in a lifetime chance to spread my wings. No, I laid the money on the line and bought a $1200 ticket from Omaha, Nebraska to Manchester England. One week later I submitted my passport application, complete with fantastically ugly passport photos in which I look like a very scared and angry fat prostitute. Oddly enough, I still use that damned passport. Not a single customs agent has ever questioned it. Assholes.

Six months later, after several episodes of packing and unpacking and repacking my bags, I touched down in England. As soon as I walked through the doors from customs I heard my name shouted from below. Lesley, Sue, and Lizzie stood staring up from the ground level, baggage carts loaded, grinning ear to ear. Though we'd not met before that very moment, we were best friends embarking on a whirlwind trip of the UK. I should clarify that I was the only one on an actual whirlwind trip. Lizzie and Lesley were Liverpudlians and Sue was a Scot, so this was merely a holiday for them, but they embraced it with as much enthusiasm as first timers.

Our journey began with a train ride to Liverpool where Lesley called home. I'd heard my whole life how rainy and dreary England was, but Mother Nature had other plans for our holiday. The sun shown brightly and the mercury rose with every passing minute. With temperatures nearing 85 F, we stepped off the train and promptly stowed our belongings in the lockers and headed out into the streets of Liverpool. There wasn't a minute to waste and we planned to experience as much as possible.

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Our first stop was the ferry on the Mersey (Thank you Gerry Marsden). Try getting that damned song out of your head after a 40 minute ferry ride. Though I'd scarcely slept in the last 48 hours, I felt invigorated by the breeze off the river (or maybe it was the Lucozade) and was certain I'd be able to rally when we stepped back on dry land. We made our way back to the area surrounding the train station, taking in a series of exhibits at an old church, mostly as an excuse to do some shopping and to escape the growing heat of the day.

The shopping proved fruitless, but the cool damp air of the stone cathedral was like Heaven. As Lesley made use of the "facilities", Sue and I rested our weary bones on a wide set of marble stairs. Had it been possible to melt into the surface at that point we surely would have. To prove it, we laid flat on our backs right there in front of God and everybody, feeling the cold emanating from beneath. We closed our eyes and, for a moment, simply existed. Exhaustion began to set in and I drifted.

You can spot a kiss coming from a mile away. There's a look in the other person's eyes that is unmistakable. It's either soft and tender or fiery and passionate, but there IS a look. I would have recognized that look too... if I'd had my eyes open when it approached.

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The moment I felt lips brush my skin my eyes flew open and I stared into the eyes of a stranger. He looked as shocked as I was, which is comical given the fact that he approached a woman dozing on the steps of a public place then planted his mouth on her. He quickly moved backward and said, "I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. You looked like an angel laying there." He rose, as if in a daze, smiled kindly, and turned around, motioning to the boy at his side, who looked as confused as I must have.

The man gave a quick wave and walked out the door, never to be seen again... by me anyway. I'm sure he was seen by others later, though I wonder if he went missing after returning home. If that boy was his son there is a chance that there was an angry wife at home. Kids are notorious for being shitty at keeping secrets.

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