Monday, 19 March 2012

Synecdoche, Everywhere

Berlin, London, New York, Abu Dhabi, Amman. Three months and nary a blog post to be seen? 2012's been busy. We started the New Year in London. We had our own miniature fireworks, and we set them off outside, and there wasn't any trepidation or apprehension or even excitement about starting 2012. The past year took me through sixteen countries and wondering what next after the gap year. Here I am now, sitting in Abu Dhabi, pretty content with where that helter-skelter ride left me. It's Spring Break in these here parts - I flew back in from Jordan this afternoon, and leave tomorrow for a tour of the Emirates. This time last year I'd been to the UAE for a weekend, had recently returned to post-quake Japan and was wandering around Okinawa. I wasn't expecting the next 365 days.

The OED tells me a synecdoche is 'a part for a whole', and that's all I can manage. I'm condensing the past eighty days or so into a few paragraphs, and while I'm not quite attempting to Jules Verne you with having gone around the world in so many days, 2012 has been busy. Berlin was a sophisticate city with a past but facing the future. New York was the cold hustling bustling metropolis that reeks of opportunity it's always made out to be. Amman was on the verge of everything, tipping its falafel vendors towards its hip caf├ęs and waiting to see what happens. And Abu Dhabi? I don't live there - I live in my university - and it's still not quite El Dorado or Narnia or even Hogwarts but it's close.

Berlin was with family. London was with friends. New York was with university. Amman was me flying solo, mostly. The first saw me - or didn't see me - eating in a restaurant in the pitch black, with only my sister for company and German chatter all around. We arrived in what felt like a fairly normal bar, until we looked at the menu full of riddles and met our blind waiter. He led us, hands on shoulders caterpillar-style into the darkness, where we found our seats and eventually our food when it arrived. I know people only say 'You get used to it' when referring to something you clearly don't, but eating in the dark became relatively normal quite quickly. You get desensitised to being desensitised. Scoop around the plate with fork and fingers, find the food and giggle all the way through to dessert.

We never made it to dessert on New Year's Eve. Friends made paella, which washed down with some nineteen-year-old, cupboard-stashed Becherovka, made for a mean culinary start to 2012. NYC doesn't give up easy though, and paying a dollar for a slice of pizza isn't bad when it's New York pie they're serving up. I was there for little under three weeks, studying under the previous director of the Met. I finally got to see the bowling alley under the Frick (I know, I know - pics or it didn't happen...), I watched the Upright Citizens Brigade for free two weeks in a row, and, of course, jumped around on the piano at FAO Schwarz, although not with quite as much aplomb as Tom Hanks. Though when have I ever managed something with quite as much aplomb as Tom Hanks.

And then back to Abu Dhabi. That sentence should never really sound mundane, but it's becoming part and parcel of how things run round here. And running they have been - a few weeks back had me out in Oman, running up and down hills in a desert valley having slept out on the beach the night before. And then blogging about it afterwards for my social media internship in the Athletics Dept. I cracked out the bow tie to host our last Open Mic night, which normally see me prancing about attempting a comedy set - this time I left it to the clothes to do the talking, but I will admit to attempting some freestyle rapping my fellow MC in front of the baying crowd. Finally a play too - having spent most of my time back at school wrapped up in the theatre, it was fun/exhausting/frustrating/amazing to get back into eight-hour rehearsals, line-learning and spending five hours every night with the same two dozen people.

I'm even coping with coastal biology - new semester means new courses. And travelling alone in Jordan. It rained, I barely speak the language - just enough to bemuse the taxi drivers, even the ones who want to talk Shakespeare and Poe with me - and it's hardly the world's most straightforward place. But that's all part of the fun. I made it down to Petra, which means I've ticked that off alongside Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, Rio's Christ Redeemer and Rome's Colosseum, leaving just Mexico and India to go on that basically made-up list of today's seven wonders of the world. It's hard to complain about that kind of life. Not that I'd even want to - when you're sitting drinking your Arabic coffee looking out over a Roman citadel with a whole city to explore the next day and a place to lay your head that night, you really have got it all. Or at least enough for now.