The affair began on Thursday, July 13th, at approximately 9:10 pm (UK time). I had just emerged from the National Theatre after seeing Yaël Farber’s Salomé for class, and, upon stepping out, I was greeted with a cool evening breeze flowing along the River Thames. The sun’s blue impression still marked the sky to the west, while to the east, the purple shades of night wiped clear the light’s trail. I stood at the edge of the river and witnessed the awakening of the night’s crowd, starting beneath Waterloo Bridge and spreading along the southwestward curve of the Thames beyond sight. I heard a mysterious song then, sweet and seducing, drifting toward me from the other side of the bridge. It brushed my cheek and kissed my neck, and pulled me along, a helpless romantic lost in spontaneous love. I followed the song past a riverside saxophonist playing for spare change and a BBQ street vendor blaring music, and, as the gathered crowd along the river transitioned from local teens to frenzied tourists, I found its source: the temptress herself.
She manifested as a sight across the river, the glowing yellow eye of perhaps the world’s most famous clock tower and the ornate spires of Westminster Palace. On my side of the river, the London Eye towered before me, revolving slowly as tourists less frugal than I crawled in and out of its carriages. I forgot how to breathe. I had been on my way to meet Josie, but now I couldn’t move—I was in awe. When I finally rediscovered my legs, I walked onward into the arms of the temptress. Bent to her will, I moved with her worshipping tourists, following her song and chasing after my breath. I felt like a fool as I filled my phone with photos of her; I never wanted to be counted among the tourists, but, faced with sights of such grandeur and breathtaking beauty, how could I not?
My affair with the temptress didn’t last much longer that night, for it was getting late. As I crossed Waterloo Bridge to find the underground, she fastened her marvelous lips, glittering with the lights of a city both old and new, against mine in a farewell kiss, and sucked my breath away. She still hasn’t given it back. I don’t find myself easily awed (except by fathomless heights and really really big things), but I have never been quite so literally, and consistently, breathless.
I met with Josie later than I’d intended that night after a little debacle involving Google lying to me about train and bus departures, and, being an honest person, I immediately told her about my evening with the temptress and showed her my scandalous photos. Josie smiled at me and nodded. I awaited punishment for my crime. Then she suggested we go meet the temptress together, and I got all excited and grateful that she’d be so enthusiastic to welcome the temptress into our relationship.
Josie and I spent the 15th, the Saturday of our second anniversary weekend, walking hand in hand with the temptress around the City of Westminster (within London). We started at the National Galleries, where annoying people who just wanted to be able to say they saw some art pushed and shoved through people like us who genuinely wanted to experience the art, and we made our rounds past St. James Park (where we found an isolated little hut I like to think is a witch’s den full of hapless children who came for pretty flowers, birds, and candy, but got a whole lot more) to Big Ben, Westminster Palace (the Houses of Parliament), and Westminster Abbey. To conclude our adventure, we took a trek (guided by yours truly, me, without the use of mobile pathfinding apps) to spy on Her Majesty the Queen herself. We used our X-Ray vision to see through the gates and walls of Buckingham Palace (which was actually quite boring compared to Westminster Palace).
Admittedly, it was somewhat embarrassing being a tourist for a day (although, unlike many other tourists, who think the world is all about them, we were considerate and un-intrusive), but there’s a reason tourism is a thing. Sometimes life isn’t truly lived if you don’t go and see the sights. Every wanderer will one day behold the Temptress Tourism, and she will call to you, plucking your heartstrings with her lovely song. Don’t resist. Embrace her. Bring your friends and lovers, too—she’s totally into that.