When I had barely got my feet under myself as an ultra shy freshman
in high school, my parents announced with excitement that our family would be
moving to England for six months. As I remember it, there was no
lead-up to this announcement.
was set in stone the minute it fell nonchalantly out of their mouths,
their lips smiling in what seemed to me to be pure mockery of how it
made me feel inside. Didn’t they know I was painfully naive and
insecure? Did they not realize that I had barely settled into school
and made a few noble friends who I adored? I was barely starting to
breathe let alone to thrive, and just like that they were going to
snatch the rug right out from under me.
Knowing them, I
know they did it lovingly, and although I’m sure they were aware of my
sobs and wailing about the move, they knew what I know now: change is
But it took the “refiners fire” of living in England for six months to realize it.
I grew more in those six months than I think I grew the whole rest of my life up to that point put together.
Sure it was hard.
Sure it was uncomfortable. I cried every day as I feverishly wrote letters to my friends back home and listened to the “Stand Alone” cassette tape that they sent with me. I held on to every shred of home for dear life. I detested the brown school uniform I had
to wear to Rosebury School for Girls and felt uncomfortable every single day. I longed for the freedom and safe
harbor I had created back home.
But my older sister
Saren and I were somehow allowed to explore London on our own. We knew “The Tube” like the back of our hands. Somehow those
endless escalators bringing us down into the belly of the city and the
warm wind announcing the arrival and departure of each train whisked in and out of the station to
take us on a new adventure invigorated us.
loved Picadilly Circus and shopping and all the connections we made
through Victoria Station with it’s wall of flipping departure, arrival
and platform information.
And somehow, somewhere, something inside me started to wake up and uncurl from my burden of being displaced.
Somehow that city became “mine.” And I survived those six months in spite of myself.
That time our family spent in England was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
England was the place I started to emerge from my shell of
shyness. It was where I started to gain more confidence in myself.
Do you know why? It
was because England was the first place where I learned, truly, that I could do hard things.
the reason I personally pine away to move to England…or China…or
Singapore…or Australia…at least just for a little while. It made
such a huge difference in my life I figure it will somehow miraculously
do the same for my kids…much more about that back here.)
So, although we have been back a handful of times since that dreaded six-month stretch so long ago, it always feels incredibly rejuvenating to get back to that place I finally, reluctantly fell in love with.
Although we only had one day in the city, we utilized every minute of it.
Here we are at Victoria after our overnight flight:
We were brimming with excitement to get out there and see everything we wanted to see.
I was a little sad that the old flipping letter/number display had been digitized. I loved hearing the whirr of those numbers change to announce a platform change or a new schedule.
We had a joyous reunion with my sister Saydi who is living over in London with her family for six months. (Yes, she’s living the dream over there 🙂She was the best tour guide we could have ever asked for.
Our first stop was Buckingham Palace
Then we took this picturesque road…
…over to the Birdcage Walk:
I am in love with architecture. From modern straight lines to this ultra decked out stuff. I couldn’t get enough of that ceiling.
We walked that place with our little “audio tours” pressed to our ears leading us past all the tombs ensconced in that building. I found myself imagining the days of those old kings and poets, how their funerals went, what was said, how the weddings were planned, how the brides felt as they walked down those isles, trains trailing behind them.
I found myself wishing I had paid more attention to the royal wedding that happened there last year…
Next we went to Big Ben
…and took a cheeseball picture at the phone booth because you have to do that when you’re in London, right? My question is, will they keep these phone booths forever? I mean, phone booths are pretty much obsolete these days.
I sure hope they never get rid of those things. I adore them.
But I digress…on to Big Ben…
I talked my mom and sister into doing the London Eye even though they had done it before. I figured since we only had a finite amount of time in London we better see it from a good vantage point.
It didn’t disappoint as far as I’m concerned.
The weather held out until the last couple minutes.
We walked to Trafalgar Square to find it all fenced up ready for some sort of festival the next day. It’s a good thing I’m tall so I could take this picture on my tippy-toes over the fences:
I just liked this picture of my sister and mom amidst the Londoners…trying to navigate us around.
From Piccadilly we took a double-decker bus through the curvy streets down past Hyde Park…
…and then back to the beginning to Victoria Station to take a train to North Hampton where the Bardet-Biedl conference was starting with a dinner that evening.