Friday, August 31, 2007

Has it Been Ten Years?

I distinctly remember being 9 years old, and setting up a tape recorder next to the television set, so that I could record the audio of the royal wedding, back in 1981. I had to go to swimming lessons at Bowdoin College, so I didn't get to watch it (this was obviously before the invention of the VCR!). What I can't remember is what it was that began my obsession with all things Diana - - maybe it was simply that day, and all the coverage that went along with it. For years I would collect books, magazines, and keep meticulous scrapbooks. There was just something about her that I loved and admired, and I liked nothing better than to look at my books, over and over again. Fast forward to 11 years later. I was a student at Oxford Polytechnic in Oxford, England. I had been to England once before, in high school, and would end up going once again, in 1994. One rainy day, my friend Gail and I had decided to take a bus to London for the day, along with a large group of other students. We trudged nearly 2 miles to the bus stop, in the rain, only to find that we'd read the bus schedule wrong, and the bus wouldn't be there for another couple of hours. We all headed back to the dorm, but Gail and I decided to walk back to the bus stop later and head on to London anyway. It was a long day - - we were still slightly jet-lagged because we hadn't been in England for more than a week yet, and I remember falling asleep while getting my hair cut, nearly scaring the unsuspecting hairdresser to death when I almost did a nosedive out of her chair. We visited Kensington Palace, and wandered around London, eventually deciding it was time to head back to Oxford. As I knelt down on the sidewalk to search for some bus fare in my back pack, I happened to look up and see Princess Diana walking toward me. This was around the time that she was making headlines for simply leaving Kensington Palace without a bodyguard, walking around Kensington High Street and popping in at McDonalds, or doing a bit of shopping - - just trying to blend in I suppose. I don't remember what I said to Gail, but I'm quite certain it sounded something like, "MWAGGHHH! BLAHHH! WHAAP!", accompanied by lots of frantic gesturing and such. When Gail finally understood what was happening, we watched Princess Diana cross the busy street and head into the Gap, of all places. So, we of course abandoned our spots in line and followed her! The best part was, not many had recognized her, so we watched like a couple of voyers, behind racks of hip clothing, while the Princess perused the store. As quickly as she came in, she was ready to leave. Once she hit the sidewalk again, however, she had been recognized, and random people started chasing after her and yelling her name. Back to Kensington Palace she went, and Gail and I headed to Pizza Hut to try to digest what we'd just seen. When we got back to Oxford, I remember calling my parents and breathlessly telling them what had happened that day. Just five short years later, I was on my way back to my apartment in Swanville, Maine, after having spent the weekend in Topsham. I stopped in Camden to call my mother for one reason or another, and that is when she told me that Princess Diana had been in an accident. I didn't have a television at the time, so when I reached my apartment I didn't know anything until my mom called me again, a little while later, to tell me that she had died. Oddly enough, I was meeting Steve the next day, for breakfast, in Camden. I hadn't seen him in years, since the time we'd dated briefly, back in 1994. I'm afraid I had a hard time paying any attention to him that morning, because as we sat at Cappy's Chowder House, CNN was blaring on the restaurant television, so I was a little preoccupied! It's odd to think back on all of this now - - it seems so long ago in some ways, and like it just happened, too.

4 comments:

aunt Jean said...

Diana's death is one of those world events that cause us to always remember where we were when we heard the news. Uncle Ken and I were watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, that Saturday night when the news came on that Diana had been in a serious auto accident in Paris. I went to bed assuming she would be fine, not for a minute entertaining the idea that she would die. What a shock to read the Sunday paper the next morning.

kirsten said...

Heath- I always think of you when I hear about Diana probably because I remember how much you loved her in college. (Remember also that big poster we had in the hallway of John Kennedy, JR- it's funny what random things come back to me)

Heather said...

HA HA! I forgot about that John-John poster! It was on the landing, halfway down the stairs. I'm pretty sure I have some incriminating photos of each one of us, posing with that poster. Tee hee!

Kate said...

I first saw it while watching Dr. Quinn too and you were one of my first thoughts. I had been at Kensington Palace the week before she died and the place was deserted-it was a different scene just a few days later but I just missed it.

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