Yesterday was an amazing, fulfilling day—and not because I made it to the British Library and saw the Magna Carta and Beowulf, nor because I visited the British Museum and saw the Parthenon Frieze, the Rosetta Stone, and the Sutton Hoo treasures. Those are beautiful, illuminating works of art in their own right, and I’m very grateful that I had the chance to see them. What defined this day was the simple act of human kindness and companionship. I was fortunate to meet up with my favorite professor from college at the British Library, where she happened to be today while working on her latest book. Professor Campbell not only bought me lunch (and an original Budweiser beer, which is so much better than the American version), but also walked with me through the manuscript exhibition at the British Library and shared her expertise of Old English by reading aloud fragments of Beowulf—among other things, that’s one of the reasons she is one of my favorite people to hang out with, period.
After viewing the pieces on display in the British Library collection, I biked off to the British Museum and had a chance to see the aforementioned works of art. Needless to say, works of such renown are always subject to swarms of tourists and at several points I saw people touching or sitting on art, which pissed me off. A quick tangent here: If you’re one of those people that assumes something made of stone won’t be harmed by you poking a finger at it, imagine what will happen after a thousand years of people constantly touching the same piece of art: it probably won’t look like art anymore. So please, kindly keep your fingers to yourselves. Anyways, where was I? The art was magnificent—I was particularly blown away by the pediment sculptures of the Parthenon, which represent the height of Classical naturalistic sculpture. The drapery of the figures was immaculate, and their gestures graceful yet imbued with power and verve. It took a master to sculpt them and even the fractures that remain are inspiring to look at. There would normally be a picture here but I accidentally deleted most of my photos before they were uploaded 😦
Later that afternoon, I met up with Josh at a pub in Kensington borough, just off of Hyde Park. I played rugby with Josh in college and also saw him a couple times here and there on campus. He’s still in school—still playing rugby, in fact—and not only was he generous enough to buy me a pint of Guinness, he shared a ploughman’s platter with me as well (it was definitely enough for two full-grown men to fill up on).
It’s been a little less than a week since I left home, and although I don’t miss it yet, being alone in a foreign country is slightly depressing—there are so many amazing things to see and do, but sharing the experience with someone else makes everything that much more special. The simple act of having a meal with people from my second home—Brandeis—was enough to make me feel like maybe I never left at all.
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