My body was still vibrating from two little white pills with the silhouette of a dove stamped on each of them, which I had digested shortly after entering an underground dance club specializing in “Jungle” music—and ecstasy. Youth made me indestructible, and a little stupid. Yes, if my friends jumped off Tower Bridge, I probably would too.
I left straight from the clubs onto a train headed south from Victoria Station as the sun rose and an army of half-stoned kids staggered from the dark of the club into the light of the city morning.
London’s mornings smelled different than those of St. Louis. Sure, you could still smell bus and car fumes, but something was different.
They didn’t smell like American bus fumes.
People still went to bakeries for their bread in London, and a stroll down any city street on any morning bore the smell of rising dough, mixed in somehow, with hops and barley.
The buzz of the city was somehow peaceful.
Maybe it was because I had just gone nine hours without a cigarette, and my two-pack-a-day lungs were finally visiting flavor country.
Whatever the reason, I felt no jet lag, and I felt no culture shock—just a strange level of comfort in my surroundings that I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Stan and I stuck out like the American tourists we were as we entered the general London populace from underground.
They say New York is about two years behind London in fashion and trend; St. Louis is about five years behind New York.
As we trekked through the city in search of our youth hostile, backpacks on, we inadvertently became the great American cliché; running away to Europe to find ourselves like so many wide-eyed, sorely optimistic twenty-somethings had before.