Day 6 (Day 3 at the London Center)

Today was mostly a get-acquainted and move-in day. We had our first set of classes today. History/Politics is 9:00am- 10:15am every Monday and Tuesday/Thursday (Tuesday or Thursday, depending on what we’re doing that week) and Literature is 10:45am-12:00pm. Orientation was as orientation is – details, overwhelming overview of assignments, laughs, death, the usual. We had a pre-test in Wade’s class which was basically a smattering of important dates in English History, and that went along just fine.

After class was another pseudo-class called “London Walks” which basically just consists of strolling (thematically, and confidently?) down various parts of London and recording the experience in a journal. Our first walk was a brief jaunt around the Kensington/Notting Hill Gate/Queensway/Bayswater area, home to the BYU London Center. The neighborhood quaintly houses every ethnic restaurant you could imagine, paradox intended. Thai Massages sit next to cheap delicious Shwarma under Victorian-style apartment facades. Alas, niceties and small-talk must at some point end, and the afternoon finished with the organization of clothes, making of beds, and generally getting situated in the boys’ room. We have a beautiful amalgam of young men, all studly, all mature, mostly returned missionaries; we call ourselves the “Boys Band Abroad”. We sing Radiohead songs, laugh about the things girls buy on this trip, plan for Museum and Theater visits together, hold impromptu late-night meetings; conversations are deep, arguments are fierce, and the love between us all the more so. Monday is only the beginning of us, we few, we band of brothers. More stories are surely soon to follow.

Tonight we went to Berlioz’s “Requiem” in St. Paul’s Cathedral. The piece is written as a mass for a large performance space and an even larger group of musicians. The sound in the Cathedral is incredible and the view even more so. Gold leafing and bright paintings cover the ceiling of the high domes. The hundred or so choir voices powerfully filled the vaulted ceilings for a surreal sort of anticipatory burial and resurrection. Requiems have a way of describing the repentance and atonement process more accurately than language. Tones pull on heartstrings untouched by the muses of images and words. Practice makes perfect, so hopefully this plucking of the heart strings will help me become a better performer.

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