Newcastle: 24

30th of Jan. It’s my ex’ birthday tomorrow. I sent her a card, saying on the front in cut-from-magazine style letters,

"I KNOW HOW OLD YOU REALLY ARE"

And inside,

"Made it myself.
Happy birthday."

I wouldn’t really know what else to tell her. Funny, isn’t it? After over a dozen goodbye’s in the last 30 days I still don’t know what to say. Wether it’s my host, driver or soulmate, farewells never get any easier. At least with the first you can return the favor to some degree by leaving a positive reference on their couchsurfing.com profile, adding to their popularity. Though I’m not sure I really want to do that in this case, although it seems appropriate somehow.

She was a wonderful life partner and fun to be around with. Going out, cooking, sex, travelling, cuddling, sharing, fighting, joking, fondling and supporting each other, I have nothing to remark but positive things. Highly goddamn recommended. Thanks.

 

Weren’t we going to be more positive?

Back in Leeds I was hosted by a student in their dorms. It turned out, more than half of the people I contacted lived in the same building. They were very nice and all but I have to say, I really felt like an outsider. In a place with over a hundred people gathered, I couldn’t help feel very alone. My host basically saying "Here’s ny room, here’s internet, I’ll be either studying or with my girlfriend" didn’t change much on that subject.

Oh well. I still managed to entertain myself (in fact, York is very refreshing. If New York was supposed to be founded on the same principles, they fucked up) and the time that we did share felt quite natural. Of course I gave a positive reference, because let’s face it, he gave me a room, shower and kitchen for 3 days and nights free of charge. No matter what you do or don’t add to that, it’s an extremely generous thing to offer to a complete stranger.

 

Leeds itself was, dare I say it, boring. You had the town center all about shopping, a few nice old buildings to look at, a few museums, and voila, your day is over and leaves you awkwardly unsatisfied. So what does Muhammed do when the mountains won’t come to him? He goes to the mountains. I made my own fun.

The Leeds city museum is… nice. With nice paintings, the odd sculpture here and there, a nice broad marble flight of stairs, that take you to the next level to continue your slow walk while you try so very hard to enjoy all this because well, it’s exactly like the nice stuff at home but not quite the same. And, on a good day, I succeed.

I was strolling along the wall, probably looking very unimpressed as I tilted my head to try and get the point of an entirely green canvas. I neared a doorway and as I was about to move on, I noticed that it lead to a hallway parallel to the room, with double doors leading to a sort of massive balcony. Clearly not the way to go, I tried them anyway but they were locked. Oh, well. I suppose it would be inappropriate to push my luck any further.

The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to lock double doors is to lock one in place using slide latches or similar, and an oldfashioned doorlock to then lock the other door to the first. This has one flaw, however: Unless you have additional locks anywhere, it is easy to undo the latches and swing open both doors simultaneously, making a key absolutely redundant. However the door was massive and the top latch was out of reach. Was that a folding chair against the wall?

The doors swung open like the gates to heaven, with the reddish glow of the sunset dead in front of me stinging my eyes. The view was lovely. Not as marvellous as I had hoped, but still much more than I had been provided with thus far. Amazingly, the room I had been in had no cameras or guard (must be because the art was rubbish anyway) so the only one to spot me through the window was another visitor, who followed suit with the thoughtful wonder on his face if he was supposed to even be there. He quickly figured it out and scurried off again.

And I felt so proud of myself. No harm, no lecture, no rules that others seem to find as logic as their imposers make them up to be. For once I could just do as I liked, and the whole world could fuck off.
I made myself the promise that I’m going to seek out more roofs to climb. Why? Because the view is nice. There.

 

The trip from Leeds to Newcastle (officially "Newcastle-Upon-Tyme" holy shit) went quite well, all things considering. There’s this website, hitchwiki.com, that is proving to be more and more helpful.

I’m staying with a self-employed market researcher and his lady "friend". She was the one to welcome me, and she fascinates me… in a remarkably negative way. I think it can be summed up quite well in this snippet:

"You just got home from work?" She was in high heels, suit, the works.

– "Yes." Big sigh.

I had to laugh and asked, "You don’t like your work very much?"

– "Oh no, I love my work." I nodded slowly, smiling. I like it when people enjoy their work. But she wasn’t done. "I Like the money. I like being rich, so I love making lots of money. So I love to work."

I nearly choked on my tea (We’re in England remember). It was unbelievable how sincere and sure of herself she sounded. She loves her job for no other reason then the fact that it makes her rich. Also, she talks very fast and in an almost surreal, informal tone. She offered me something to eat several times and every time, though she was very friendly, I felt like she asked this a million times before today. I mostly talked to her back as she was typing on Facebook, and with the work outfit, it was extremely hard to read her, something I’m usually quite good at. But the main image I got from her was kind of like this:
UNIMPRESSED

As I said, a fascinating little thing. I want to find out what makes her tick, mostly because I can simply not imagine what it could be. Yet somehow, she seems happy.

My host himself appears to be a wonderful man, eager to show me around. THis puts a lot of pressure on me, as I will be deciding what the both of us will be doing instead of visiting his terminally ill friend in Manchester. And I’m not even joking on this one. I don’t suppose "not going home" would could as a worthwile activity right now. I need to think on this.

 

I’ll be staying here until wednesday- And it’s um friday now so that makes 5 days. The reason I have the exact date set this time is because I’ll be meeting up with a fellow RoP player, which I am quite excited about. Sharply contrasting with Leeds, I have people I can talk to here. It’s… a relief.

Pictures are updated, so is the map.
If you don’t have the addresses bookmarked by now, you’re of no use to me.

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