This is the first of my “Advent Calendar” Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I’m challenging myself to complete it, see here.
We rested for a while in the common room of the hostel while Marketa gingerly applied band-aids to her blisters. We had spent a full day hopping on and off a big red bus that looped past all the guidebook must-sees. Even with a double-decker covering most of the ground for us, hiking around the streets of London in plastic flip-flops was an unhealthy choice.
“Thank God we saw everything today!” Marketa pulled socks over her band-aids. “I need a break!”
I sighed. Maybe she needed a break, but the light was fading outside, the city was starting to twinkle, and I was going to miss it all, stuck in a cheap hostel with a bunch of loud Germans in bright pants.
Dave noticed my distress and spoke up.
“My feet are okay. Was there other stuff you wanted to see?”
I hesitated. I caught Marketa’s eye and she waved me off with her hand.
“Go, I’m fine. I have tea and there’s a TV.”
“Are you sure?” I felt guilty leaving her behind, even if I craved some time alone with Dave. She had agreed to let him join us on our European adventure, even though I’d just met him two months before the trip, and I didn’t want to make her regret the decision.
“Yeah, look, there’s a soccer game on. My feet are dead. Don’t let me stop you from going back out, if you have the energy.”
I shot a grateful smile to Marketa, then a delighted smile to Dave. We studied our map and planned a bus route, then stepped back outside in our sensible walking shoes, ready to see London at night.
We found ourselves by the Houses of Parliament as Big Ben was chiming the hour from the top of the clock tower. Lights made the tower glow like warm gold, and across the Thames the London Eye was a brilliant silvery ring. I reached for Dave’s hand. As he laced his fingers through mine, I pulled my hand back. He looked up at me, concerned.
“We got it wrong.” I told him. “Try again.”
“Wrong? Holding hands? How can you get that wrong?”
“Your thumb needs to be the one on top or it feels all weird.” I reached over again and wove my fingers in differently. I nodded, satisfied. “See, now your thumb rests on mine and it’s much better. You get to be the dominant thumb. Not that I’m saying you’re in charge in general, though. Just the thumb.” I grinned.
We walked for a while, but I don’t remember where we went. We talked a whole lot, but I don’t remember what we talked about. I know we ended up resting at Trafalgar square, sitting on a stone step beside the regal lions at the base of Nelson’s Column. I leaned on Dave and we stared out at the city lights, enjoying the view and our moment together.
Soon, the teenagers making out below us on the steps attracted the attention of a couple of police officers, and we decided to move on.
“What do you want to see next?” Dave offered his hand to help me up.
“I’d love to see the bridge. Do you think it’s too far to walk?”
He smiled. “Nah, we can make it.”