A very Camden Christmas Eve eve – a short story

Words

“Please mind the gap, between the train and the platform…” echoes over a dozen of heads as I step off the train on the tube station. I climb the 94 steps back to reality, up from the underground. Coats and boots fill the gaps everywhere around me, but Camden Town is not as crowded as usual. Might have something to do with the fact that today is Christmas Eve eve. For once, I thank my irregular work rota and I’m happy that I got today off. Even if that means I have to work Christmas Day…

Under the soles of slightly warmer boots, colourful words paint the ground. I stop and read the chalk poems and search the pockets of my faux-fur for a few coins but with no result. Soon, my own words start to form silent poetry on my lips.

My dr. Martens cross the road, to the way too familiar chain coffee shop.
“Gingerbread Latte, please. Yeah tall. Oh and soy milk, no cream. Thanks.” The barista smiles and gives me my change back. I make a mental note of giving the coins to the street poet.

Back out in the crisp but not too cold London winter, the smell of the coffee in my hand is hidden underneath the Christmas tree sale along the main road. They still sell these today, for totally unorganised people without any sense of structure to their life. I completely forgot, I should probably get one… Later.

Next to the fragrant trees, there are bundles of holly and mistletoe. I pick up one of those mythical green twigs and laugh to myself as I think of potential mistletoe kisses. Not happening. I buy it anyways, in complete irony, of course.
The Lock Market is getting closer, and I wonder if my boots can feel that they belong here. I can feel it, at least. I stop under the sign, stating that “we’re (very) open (minded)”, wanting to take pictures of it just as much now as the first time I was here.

Warm cider, cupcakes, crepes and burritos hits me in an overwhelming mix of scents, and a just as incredible wall of memories tumbles across my mind. Friends, vintage shopping, family visiting, first dates, second dates…
My feet keep on making their way forward and I push my mind to do the same.

Box after box with vinyl records. Elephants in rainbow swirls, followed by pink clouds and grey rain. I start imagining the songs, what the lyrics mean, what the sound would make me feel. One of the covers catches my mind off guard. It still hurts to think that I can recognise them anywhere… Your favourite band, that is. I leave the records behind and continue.

When I reach the bridge across the canal, I think I stepped in to a winter wonderland – is it actually snowing? Turns out, what looked like snow for a second is just tiny raindrops frozen in time and caught in thick fog. Just as my mind becomes heavy, the crucial moment between day and evening, light and dark, approaches. And, as expected, Christmas lights on automatic timers turn on everywhere around me. It looks just like stars, just a little more artificial than real glowing bodies in space.

And just then, I feel as if I can finally see a little bit of Christmas joy. Maybe there are actually miracles everywhere around.
~J

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