The morning rides with sunshine and the voices of the birds alight with song. The day is new as we set about to travel through Headington to the Kilns.
The days blur together when traveling in new lands. The trains run while I have navigated on foot through London. Time, too, seems to compress and suddenly it’s Sunday and I am off to Oxford, starting in the tube toward Paddington.
Yesterday while standing at the corner of Russell Square, two young Latin men catch my attention and one says, “Piccadilly Seerk?”. I look confused and ask, “what?”
He laughs, looks at his friend and tries again, “Piccadilly Seerk?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I just got here yesterday. See? Here’s my map,” as I pull out my mini map of London. “Do you want to go to the Piccadilly train line?” I ask.
“Uhm, no we are from Brazil and we thought you are a Londoner.”
“Me? No, I just got here. Let’s look at the map — oh, are you looking for Piccadilly Circus?” Their eyes light up, “yes, where is it?”
I show them the map, we make hand gestures, they laugh, thank me and blend back into the crowd.
A shout of thanks to all those who’ve fought for freedom, here and in other lands, living into wars they don’t often survive — some, unknown and marked in our memories without names. But their faces carry us, reminding us of the precious gift that freedom is.
“Unidentified soldier of the First AIF, Australian War Memorial’s Collection, sometime between 1915 and 1918.”