Follow That Flag: To Leeds

1.07.2015 Distance traveled: 5082 mi/8179 km

Cheerio! This Yank’s flag just made it to Jolly Old England, chaps! How many “Englishisms” will I cram into this post?!

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Cheers to Amy for talking a co-worker into snapping this photo at Kirkstall Abbey in West Yorkshire, Leeds, England. A quick Wiki search and some titbits from Amy, describe the ruined Cistercian monastery on the north bank of the River Aire; Founded in 1152, it was targeted and all-but-destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, implemented by Henry VIII when he split form the Catholic Church. You might know the picturesque ruins from a Turner painting or two. Here is an 1801 watercolour by Thomas Girtin.

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“Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds,…
‘Save from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain”

-From Thomas Gray’s, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, 1751

But enough with culture and art as the ultimate form of human expression.

I like to use a pumice stone metaphor to describe being friends with Amy from across the pond: Sometimes she tickles, sometimes she freaking hurts. Scraped from the bottom of the barrel of my heart, she is perceptive, thoughtful, scrutinizing, snide and sharp, all the sexy things I need in a best friend, and she never lets me get away with anything. She is also the only person I know who likes words more than I do. When she returned to England, she was offered an ad editing position and declined…because the interviewers didn’t know the difference between a typo and a misspelling. Ignorance may be bliss, just not around Amy. The rest of our band of expats had to put up with hours of a pasttime we affectionately call, “Wordz” (sharing and even gushing over the near-miracle that is language and the etymology of different words or phrases) at the cafe, on the bus, at the bar, between classes, stalling gameplay, across the table and especially in the middle of their more relevant conversations. With a degree in English, specializing in literature, creative writing and poetry, she had most of the fun facts to contribute. That’s right. Fun. Facts. When it wasn’t Wordz, bike-rides, and misadventures, she also made a fabulous drinking buddy and is someone to bounce any idea off of -the weirder, the better.

It was frozen tundra season when I met Amy, after making my way back to the booth at the end of the dense, smoky, wooden shotgun-style neighborhood hof (Korean dive bar). I first noticed her impressively un-greasy hair for having just hopped off a flight halfway around the world, her accent, then the tiny glint of a small nose ring. I thought, “Ok, she’s British, proper, but cool.” Before I could untie my scarf and take my seat, I was rudely introduced to her by one of America’s finest frat house rejects. This character fancied firing aspersions that were more self-reflective than anything and rarely mistaken for wit. He made some comment about how I was the blood hound of the group, and had a nose so strong, they often enjoyed subjecting it to detecting many unpleasant smells. Annoyed and at a loss for words, I didn’t know what Amy’s first impression of me would be, but in true British form, she quipped back with an honest interest in my quirk. She related to me by mentioning one of her friends back home had the ability to smell cancer, and the rest is history. She’s been thickening my skin and keeping my sarcasm keen ever since. I like to think I’ve been nauseating her with my 3D-rose-tinted sentiments. These days, whether it’s a verbal smack across the face on Skype or a telephone receiver to cry on, it’s still a virtual match made in Transatlantic wordplay Heaven.

The Flag is en route all the way to…Manchester!

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