Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rediscovering my friendship with Don

One of the big bummers about low mood is the lack of interest in doing anything. In my case, it was literally almost anything that required my brain. Sometimes even watching TV or reading was too hard; I wasn't able to follow the plot lines (and this is me we're talking about, a usual rabid reader). Sometimes I'd forget secondary characters that were only in every other episode. If Goose and I were watching the show together and later he brought up something that happened, I wouldn't always know what he was talking about, despite having watched and likely discussed the episode while it was happening.

So when I finally started to feel the light again, it felt like the world suddenly had color. I had a realization that London was, indeed, as cool as I had remembered it.

You know what first activity got me out of that funk? What I really got excited about?

Rainbow bagels. I kid you not...rainbow bagels are the first thing I have really gotten crazy about in almost a year.

I was reading an article similar to this one when I realized that I wanted nothing more than to try this bagel. As though my life depended on it. Through the days of wondering how or when I could get this bagel (several plans were made in my schedule, like figuring out when to go after classes, if I could deliver one to Goose while he was at work, etc). A lot of thought went into obtaining this bagel. I got a little bit obsessed.

But then I realized I should make it an opportunity to socialize again. The week or two previous I'd been set up with a number of girls as part of a ladies cocktail club. I only knew a few of the girls peripherally through a group that my gay BFF started a few years ago. He encouraged me to go because I'd been down and had lost so many of my friends and community to the layoff, and so I went. The girls there were super cool and easy to talk to. We bonded over various topics and I can see the beginning of at least some friendly acquaintance friendships. It felt like a door was opening.

At the end of the cocktail club meeting I suggested we make a Whatsapp group so all of us could keep in touch easier. It's a known fact (in my mind at least) that people are pretty crap at keeping up with correspondence. Especially if it's Facebook-related and events figured this would be a shortcut.

And it was. After telling Goose about the bagels and him showing mild interest (which is fair enough, it's a multicolored bagel, after all), I splashed the suggestion across to the cocktail ladies, and most responded positively. And quickly! Soon it became a group date with an interest in going to the nearby Columbia Street Flower Market as well. Boom, a date for that weekend with minimal effort. I was ecstatic.

And so we went to the flower market and the rainbow bagel shop. It's all located in Brick Lane, a trendy hipster neighborhood that is the next in a long line of slowly gentrifying east London communities. It is literally on the doorstep of Shoreditch, the first hipster neighborhood I was acquainted with when moving to London. The super trendy have now gone to other places like Brixton and Hackney. A rather frightening change from poor neighborhoods to affluent neighborhoods as soon there will be no place for the poor to go. But I digress.

First was the flower market. I was more interested in the bagels, of course, because sometimes plants make me uncomfortable. But I was willing to see what it was all about, and I like flowers. I rationalized that if I started to feel anxious I'd just neck it out of there until everyone was done and I could get the rainbow bagel of my dreams.

It really is a gorgeous flower market though, so I needn't have worried for long:

Unfortunately these photos aren't mine, they're stolen from the internet. It was jampacked with people and very narrow. Instead I used my eyes. I've been trying to do that more lately - use my eyes instead of my camera. I want to experience things for myself.

The colors were just incredible. I have only ever seen anything like it when Churches and I were at the Keukenhof tulip gardens near Amsterdam. Explosions of color. Lots of tulips, roses, and even succulents.

It's not a big market, so everyone went through the first time in about 10 minutes, maybe 15 if they got stuck behind someone buying something and couldn't move forward, so we all met at a coffee shop at the end, had a cuppa, then went back and made our real purchases.

I ended up buying these unusual looking tulips:

This is an actual picture by me. They were red tulips with yellow and purple crinkled edges. I later found out they're called parrot tulips, and the crinkling is caused by a virus (kinda ew). I had a bet with the other cocktail girls whether it was really a beautiful flower, or just simply terrifying. They all thought it was beautiful...I'm still on the fence. But happy I got them anyway. Nice to give some color to the house. They lasted a week, which was a nice surprise.

We finally headed to the bagel shop. At this point I was pretty hungry because I'd purposefully not eaten in preparation for this bagel experience. But when we got to the shop (which is open 24 hours), they had run out and it would be another hour before they had their next batch. I was floored. Several people were sad. So to kill time we wandered down the street, had another drink, and then wandered back.

The line in front of Beigel Shop was surprisingly manageable. We did find out later that it wound around inside the actual shop, but it was still a manageable wait time, around 15-20 minutes. I could deal with that, even with hunger.

Now when you think of rainbow bagels (or beigels), especially after reading an article like the one I linked above, you imagine this:

Gorgeous multicolored bright neon bagels with beautiful patterns.

Or even more simply, just with splotches of color. Something that reminds you of Lisa Frank and everything psychedelic and wonderful in childhood.

In actuality though...they were like this:

Which is not to say that they were bad...but they were a little bit of a disappointment. Don't be deceived! Every photo you've ever seen of a rainbow bagel that does not look like this one has probably had its colors saturated.

But it didn't matter, I was still interested. This was the first thing that had really gotten my interest back to London after everything I'd been through. I was excited either way. I was going to have a rainbow bagel.

And so I did. I ordered mine with cream cheese, crispy bacon, and tomato, which is a favorite combination from my favorite bagel shop in San Diego, Golden Bagel, which according to a quick Google search right now reveals that it has not only closed, but had very so-so ratings. Well, that wasn't my experience of it, in any case. I loved that place when I was living there and will remember it fondly always despite what the internet says.

I ordered Goose his request of crispy bacon with cheese. Others ordered cream cheese with salt beef, one of their specialties. I couldn't remember ever having salt beef (or even really know what it is), so I was wary. I tried some of someone else''s amazing. I'll have to remember that for the future.

But anyway, back to the rainbow bagel: I give it a thumbs up! Much softer and chewier than any other bagel I've had, but not necessarily in a bad way. It did get completely stuck in your teeth, which was a bit of a drag, especially as it's highly colored...but I was still very pleased with the overall texture.

The taste was a bit strange though. It was a tiny bit sweet and had an overwhelming flavor of tea. I am fairly certain this was not intentional. Either that or my taste buds were going nuts that week (it's possible, sometimes my smell and taste flare up and it's impossible not to think things don't taste right for days). It sort of tasted like matcha rice cake. Super sticky, little sweet, lots of earthy tea flavor. I had read in some article that someone claimed each of the colors was a different fruit flavor...but I don't think that's what was happening here. They were talked about as tasting like plain bagels, just colored. I would definitely disagree with that too.

Some in the group thought the savory and sweet combination was a bit much. I thought it was still good, but I was also completely immersed in my feelings of sweet happiness at 1) having obtained the desired rainbow bagel and eating it 2) finally eating something because I was starving and all we'd had that day was tea and cider and 3) the sun was shining, which is such a rare thing in England, so the salty sweet combination didn't bother me. Also, the amount of toppings they piled onto that bagel was incredible. A ridiculous slather of cream cheese, one or two tomato slices, and then, I kid you not, half a rasher of bacon. Literally we're talking like 5 pieces of bacon. It was awesome.

I went home very happy. Pleased that I'd been social and trying to make new friends, tried a new food item of interest, saw the sunshine. I was tired but content. I could feel the inklings of excitement starting up in me again. This was just the first step in planning my way back into a relationship with Don. Feeling the anticipation of sought-after events and food. Trying new things, really enjoying the city again.

I cannot wait to see what else there is to explore.

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