The prime meridian at Greenwich, 2012.

The prime meridian monument at Greenwich.
An imaginary line running around half the globe (and a monument marking it). Greenwich, September 2012.

I went to visit Greenwich alone since my friends had wanted to go shopping and I had declined with something akin to horror. Shopping is fine when I need to buy something, but just wandering around looking at everything didn’t appeal to me much. They didn’t understand why I wanted to go see an imaginary line which arbitrarily ran from one pole to the other, so we parted ways gladly.

I got on trains, I got off trains, I walked up a hill and arrived at the observatory. I discreetly inserted myself into a group of students on a tour, and listened to their guide as he explained some of the exhibits in the museum. I was paying more attention to him than the kids were, and I think he was rather gratified by my presence. I looked at old telescopes. I wandered up old buildings, stared bemusedly at empty old rooms, chatted with one of the security personnel who talked about the Thames and the London Olympics. I took a picture of an American couple kissing across the prime meridian.

Far away from home.

I contemplated the line that marked the Greenwich meridian a fair bit longer than most of the tourists.  I got a few curious glances from both the security people and the visitors. It was just a line; you can jump across it and step on it and dance on it and nothing happens. It’s just a line, and also history and geography and astronomy and science and time all bundled into one.

It still remained a line after I was done staring at it. Shaking off my ridiculous melancholy, I went for a hot chocolate and bought a few postcards, then trudged back down the hill and through the park, and went to see what else Greenwich had to offer.

(This was written for the daily prompt border, mostly because it reminds me of how all these lines are arbitrary and important at the same time.)