The Travelling Blues


Readjustment to a culture I’m not always comfortable with:

Yesterday I went to the grocery store with my grandmother, and as we entered the building, I realized that I needed to -er, “powder my nose,” as they say. I started searching the store but couldn’t find a restroom anywhere, so I walked up to the barista at the cafe at the front of the store and decided to ask him.

Emily: Excuse me, sir?
Barista: Yes, can I help you?
Emily: Yes, well, I was wondering if you could tell me where the – erm…”

I faltered.

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask, “Where’s the loo?” and even though I’m sure this man would have understood me – he was, after all, a barista, and aren’t all baristas supposed to be hip and cultured by default? Or has the entire coffee subculture been leading me on? And why do I think “loo” would be a sign of culture and sophistication in America? It’s just another word for toilet – oh, wait, sorry, rant over; back to my original topic – even though I’m sure this man would have understood me, I hesitated to use it because it is not an American term.

So I started again:

Emily: Where’s the restroom?

The barista pointed me in the right direction, and I made my way over. The restroom was empty. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and wondered,

“Was I really in London just six days ago?”

It feels like a dream, the type that you can just barely remember, and the harder you try to hold on to it, the quicker it disappears from your consciousness.

I could have cried right there in the public restroom.

I miss London. I feel like I’m in mourning.

From now on, I’m saying “loo,” and if the Americans think I’m odd, then so be it.

Note: As I was editing this, my grandmother just asked if I’d like a cuppa. She’s using the tea I bought her in London. I feel a little better now.

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5 thoughts on “The Travelling Blues

  1. They call the “powder rooms” “washrooms” in Canada. I got an odd look from a guy at the airport when I asked for a restroom earlier this week. Did you see any of the outdoor bathrooms…presumably just for men while in London? They have them in Manchester. You basically walk in a spiral circle that provides some privacy though you still see a persons face and upper body as well as his feet.

  2. I’ve been back in the states for a year now, and I still say Queue when I’m referring to getting in line or anything about waiting in line. I make no appologies. šŸ˜€

    Also, I’ve often thought that a part of me belongs in England. American by birth/British by choice.

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