It's Tuesday morning and I'm hurdling hundreds of miles an hour over the Atlantic Ocean. The space is too small and ill constructed to sleep in. I'm hungry and the tiniest bit nauseous.
It's Tuesday and I'm in another tiny compartment. I just want to be able to stretch my legs and not be sitting for a stretch of time. I'd take standing, but I would rather be horizontal honestly. But the Easybus is the cheapest route to Waterloo station, even if it does take the longest time.
It's Tuesday and I'm free from confinement. It took longer than expected, but I'm finally in Alton with an amazing family. The kids came to meet us at the train station dressed as hobbits.
It's Tuesday and I'm watching gliders being launched overhead and children wrestling in the grass. I'm eating ice cream and am just on the edge of freezing. Hello England, I've missed you.
It's Wednesday morning and I'm riding with Suzanne to drop the boys off at MultiSports. I'm not sure what 'being in a different country' is supposed to feel like. Despite the several times I've been outside the US, nothing as yet as struck me the way in which I expect...not that I really know what to expect. But right now, life and people and things are more or less familiar.
It's Wednesday and Anna Beth and I are standing outside Eton College...because we're huge nerds. There's nothing much to see really. It's just a school and it's currently closed to the public, but it's cool and historic and some awesome people matriculated through this institute. We've only just walked about 10 minutes down the road from Windsor Castle where Suzanne took us to start our day. The Queen's flag was up, so she was there...somewhere.
I'm listening to Anna Beth tell me how her future sons will attend school here.
It's Wednesday night and the whole family is watching Captain America together. I love these kids.
It's Thursday morning and my butt is touching Stonehenge. Daniel booked us in for an up close experience with the stones. An ordinary pass will only get you to within 20 feet but behind a rope to section you off from the history. But we get to meander all around them and through them as much as we want. Of course, we're 'Not supposed to touch' ...buuuuuuutttttt. My butt. And my hands. And my feet. When the minders aren't looking, I'm getting my money's worth.
It's Thursday and I'm standing under a tree on the roots and branches of which there have been tied tons of ribbons of every color. Some have notes attached. One has a beaded heart.
It's Thursday and I'm standing on a hill surrounded by valleys of farmland and fields of blooming rapeseed.
It's Thursday and I'm inside a Neolithic burial mound. It echoes the thud of boots on stone. There's a call for a flashlight because someone thinks they've found cave paintings.
It's Thursday and I have no idea how to get across the things I've seen today in word or picture form. I think there is a certain depth to life that can't be understood in any form except experiencing it. You can get close. Words can do an excellent job of eliciting an emotion to connect one person's experience to another. Film too. But sometimes you don't have a well defined feeling about what you experience. You want so badly to be able to share this undefined feeling and you do sort of. But it's not the same.
It's Thursday night and as Anna Beth said, you just had to be there.
It's Friday morning and Anna Beth and I are about to set off on our own through the English countryside. Up to now we've mostly been under the minding of our surrogate English parents. Not that we've had constant chaperoning, but we also haven't had to do much of our own navigating outside London.
It's Friday and we've just walked through a field of sheep and nearly didn't realize. We're on a 'literary walk' around Chawton, Farringdon, and the countryside, and we were so busy talking that it didn't occur to us that the turnstyle thing we supposed to hop over (as instructed by our route map) led into a sheep grazing field...where sheep were currently grazing. That's something I love about England. It's basically okay to walk in a field of livestock as long as you don't mess with them.
It's Friday and we've been recruited by the boys help gather sticks so they can build a den in the woods. It surprisingly ends up being almost completed and well built.
It's Saturday morning and we're driving to Wales. Car trips with all the Paynes are the best.
It's Saturday morning and I only fear for my life about 3 times as Daniel drives to Wales. I thought I had gotten used to most aspects of the English roadway. I'd forgotten what it was like to ride with Daniel.
It's Saturday and we're walking in downtown Cardiff. This is the first time I've been in a big city with Suzanne and Daniel. It's sort of weird. I'm used to associating them with more small village England or small village Kenya.
It's Saturday night and I finally get to take as long a shower as I want without the risk of the water turning ice cold. I love staying with the Paynes, but sometimes the respite of a quiet hotel room is just lovely.
It's Sunday morning and it is absolutely freezing. What happened to my awesome yet unexpected sunny and warm England? Please come back! Or at least tell the wind to go away!
It's Sunday and I'm standing in a fairy tale castle.
It's Sunday and it's more hitting me that I'm in a different country. It's little things. Like having no idea what a cream tea is or still not figuring out what the zigzag lines on the road are supposed to represent.
It's Sunday night and I'm back in Alton. I don't want to leave tomorrow.
It's Monday morning and I've just gotten the news that Lillie, my dog, was hit by a car last night. She didn't make it.
Sometimes I worry myself with my lack of reaction. Is it so ingrained in my head to keep it in so no one can see? Is it some kind of survival instinct? Stay adaptable to any situation so nothing throws you? Or was I just prepared to never see Lillie again? She's old and I'll be gone up to a year. She led a good life. I made a point of spending time with her before I left.
It's Monday and I'm eating a sack lunch in Trafalgar Square. The sun is shining and warm. Anna Beth and I are keeping track of the number of selfie sticks spotted in London. We're up to 5 now.
It's Monday and I'm sitting in the Theatre Cafe in London. It's wonderful in here. There's a brilliant view of the Queen's Theatre and props from tons of musicals decorate the walls. I'm drinking chamomile tea, partly because I'm trying to fight off a cold that snuck up on me in Wales and partly because I guess I like tea now. I've had some everyday this week. I'm acclimating to England.
It's Monday night and I've almost cried about 5 times today. I know that leaving for a year means that there will be changes to the place I left behind. But sometimes it takes something specific to set off that mindset I guess... I don't know. Finding the right words for me is difficult in even simple situations.
I keep thinking about the fact that I wasn't there when Lillie died. Part of me is glad. I don't know how I would deal with actually being present and rushing her to the emergency room. But the other part...I don't know.
I have a weird thing with death maybe. Like, dead bodies are whatever. They don't particularly affect me. I'll clean up a dead squirrel or bird out of the yard no problem. And dissecting hearts or whatever, I just think of it as a 'thing'.
But I don't want to watch someone or something die. I was horrified to learn that someone in AB's French class for a class project played a Youtube clip of a guillotine being used in real life, no matter how grainy or distorted the image. And I was kind of afraid to watch a certain wildlife documentary when the trailer showed an old lion flopping over. He could have just been tired, but I had...I guess a chill? and it looked like it had just died mid-walk.
I don't know. Words are difficult. It...just does something to me.
Sorry that got real morbid real fast.
It's almost Tuesday. Only an hour to go for me. I'm sitting in my London hostel fighting for good wifi. It's a bit spotty here. Hopefully you'll see this blog.
I've been gone a full week but it doesn't feel like it. Anna Beth and I were just talking about this while overlooking the Thames. It's like when you've gone on vacation and you feel like you've been gone forever and you've always been here but at the same time, the time has just flown by. It's sort of like that only without the 'time flying by' bit.
I guess it mostly still just feels like I'm on holiday. But there have been a few 'oh crap real life' moments as well. Suzanne helped us look into a few different living arrangement options for once we get to Ireland.
Sometimes it's I think about Ireland and get overwhelmed.
Other times I think about Ireland and know I'm gonna be okay.
P.S. - Seriously someone make my cold go away. This is no way to enjoy London. ugh.
[for those of you unaware, I become a bit of a drama queen when I'm sick. I tend to hate everything or become easily delirious. I think I'm amusing Anna Beth]