Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You never think it'll happen to you

Well apparently London is not finished testing me. My job search is now well under way, and I had a great interview last Thursday. I finally got my bank card. We had phone service, and we now have internet service, finally. I was even starting to get to know my way around the city pretty well. Then Saturday came around. We had a fantastic day wandering around Regent's Park, Marylebone, and Mayfair. We did a bit of shopping, a bit of snacking, a bit of gawking at ancient art galleries selling artifacts from Egyptian tombs and, right next door, Bentley and Rolls-Royce dealerships selling cars worth more than my parents' house. The weather was gorgeous and everyone on the streets was smiling. It was a perfect, perfect day.

We hung out in the shops until the evening, when we headed over to Bodean's BBQ. That's right, a barbecue restaurant in downtown London. It was pretty good stuff, too. We were meeting some Gator friends there to watch the UF-UK game, and I was super-psyched because I hadn't seen any football (real American football) since January. We had a great time until I turned around to get something out of my bag, wasn't there. I frantically ran down to the ladies' room where I had changed into my Gator shirt, thinking -- hoping -- I'd left it there. I ran around the restaurant, peeking under tables and asking waitresses if they'd seen it. But no luck. I was at a table in the corner with a bunch of people, and someone stole my bag right off the back of my chair, probably when we all looked up to see UF score its first touchdown. Wow.

Andrew ran outside and looked up and down the street and in all the trash cans he could find while I called the bank to cancel my cards. Next stop was the police station, where we filed a report. Then we had to try to find a place that sold international phone cards at 10:30 at night. Then we had to go get cash because they didn't take cards. Then we had to find a pay phone to call and cancel the American credit cards. They told me on the phone where the thief had tried to use my cards in an ATM, so Andrew found the street and thinks he may have seen the thief but couldn't do anything about it. I was calm through all of this, even through the painful process of listing everything that was in my bag. But when we got home, I broke down. There was no cash in my purse, and they couldn't do anything with my credit cards. They got little to no money out of the deal; maybe a few bucks for my cell phone and the few bucks left on my travel card. But they weren't going to get any money out of the bag itself, which Elizabeth made for me. Or the purse that Laura gave me as a graduation present. Or the brooch on my jacket that Mary gave me as a bridesmaid gift. Or the sweater that Andrew gave me for Christmas. Or the necklace I'd spent hours stringing and restringing by hand. Or the Christmas gifts I'd bought that day for my mom and Michelle. Or my notebook with lists of books I want to read and places I want to travel to. None of those things are worth any money at all. They are literally priceless, but only to me. That made me feel better because the thief wasn't going to get anything from me, really. But it also made me feel so much worse because it was all so pointless.

I'm feeling a lot better now, but I don't think I'll really get over it for a long time. Andrew and I did some shopping on Sunday and found a sweater like the one I lost and a new wallet. I got new keys yesterday and my new bank card and cell phone today. And when we were looking at Bryan's video from our summer trip tonight, I was glad to see that there is an extensive visual record of Elizabeth's handiwork. But I'll never see those things again, and they were some of my very favorite things. That's why I had them with me that day. I don't want to go overboard about this whole thing and never trust anyone ever again; I'm not that way. But I will certainly be more selective about what I bring into the city with me this Saturday. We're going back to the BBQ place to watch the UF-UGA game. I hope that everything goes well and that I can recover some sense of security. And, hey, at least the Gators won.

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