PEACE OUT, LONDON
London Travel Blog› entry 53 of 53 › view all entries
June 7th, 2007 – by: Maureenie
I was so stressed out getting into the tube with this large family of baggage that I didn’t even have time to be sad or nostalgic until I had to sit on the tube for the hour and a half it takes to get to Heathrow.
Once in Heathrow I had the unfortunate experience of negotiating with the airport staff about the size and amount of luggage that I was trying to bring back. I was worried this was going to happen. I finally just had to beg them to put on my extra bag, even though I wanted to put more than the two allotted to me under the plane, and even though all THREE of them weighed more than the allotted weight. They weren’t happy, and neither was I after the ridiculous sum they charged me for my non-compliance, but I wasn’t about to abandon my cute London clothes and unnecessary knick-knacks in an airport.
Having relieved myself of my bags, I sat at the gate, pondering my various feelings, which I decided to deem “weird” instead of “bad.” I was feeling confident that I could come home and be proud of everything that I’d done, grateful for the experiences I’d had, and excited to see what would come next.
The first leg of the flight was painfully long (ten hours is far too long to sit in the same seat), but was made easier by the company of an English gentleman sitting on my left, with whom I had a great series of conversations with instead of sleeping. It is so invigorating, and has been this whole year, to meet other young people at a crossroads in their life, full of excitement and fear at the same time. Sharing our entire life stories over the ten hour flight was definitely a good way to pass the time.
Something interesting happened when we got off the plane, and I hope that if he, by any chance, ever comes across this and reads this that he won’t feel weird about it. Anyway, this English guy I made friends with on the flight was kind enough to help me sort out my paperwork to quickly get to my connecting flight (as ours was a bit late, thanks again Air Canada). I hugged him goodbye, and said thank you... it was almost emotional to say goodbye, since that dude now knows an awful lot about my life. Then he reached in his pocket and handed me something and said, “Here, I think this will help you get through this time in your life.” After he took off I realized that the little torn book he’d handed me was a Bible. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it, but I realized that since it was worn, that it was probably HIS Bible, and that he probably thought that this was the kindest gesture he could make towards me in wishing me well. That really touched me heart.
After that I had to stand in terribly long lines to take my bags out of baggage claim and then immediately give them back to the airport people (SO annoying). Because Vancouver is sort of near the U.S., I was able to use my old cell phone to get in touch with people to arrange getting picked up from LAX. In the airport in Vancouver, my reverse culture shock began. I had to trade in my British money for American dollars at a little kiosk (I did, however, keep several bills and coins in pounds because I am romantic in that way, and told myself I would, “need it for when, not if, I went back”). American money seemed so large! The bills were so wide! How could I have become this unfamiliar with my native country’s currency? Hearing American accents everywhere certainly didn’t help matters either. How could my own accent sound so unappealing? I felt so lame and... ordinary... and angry that I had to give up a lifestyle that I had grown so accustomed to, and have to go back to school in the Socal suburbs with people who’s only concerns were who hooked up at the last drama party.
My flight into LA was late, so I tried to nap awkwardly in the seats. After I finally got on that last, stupid plane, I’d be in California and back to my old life in only an hour. I still felt sad to leave London, but at a point with myself where I was ready to go back and face the parts of my life that I’d left behind. Even if my environment was changing, that didn’t mean that I had to change, too. I felt so much more confident. I had such a wonderful life-altering experience over there and I am incredibly lucky to have had that chance to grow. I think I can be everything I want to be when I go home, and that is SO, SO, SO freeing. I can be calmer and more centered now, I think, like the English, and still work hard and continue to grow. Man, I didn’t even care anymore that my ex-boyfriend wasn’t going to pick me up at the airport. I am a great person on my own. I am fiery and ambitious and wanting to learn, and willing to take in everything around me as something beautiful and new, because I did, for a whole year. So, I decided to make this year amazing, because I am in charge of my life! It will be tricky, and I know that there are times when I will be very sad, but I know that I can get through it because I am strong person. I was so excited to hear myself say and mean these things, it almost makes me cry. So, I will not dread the future... I look forward to it, and what I can make of it. Maybe I will go back to London to be an actress. Who knows...
As I finally arrived in California, sporting tags like “In Transit” and “Excess Baggage” that were all too appropriate for my current station in life, I stepped into the warm Los Angeles evening, exhausted to the point of delirium, completely overwhelmed, yet relieved and ready to face the next chapter of my life. I could only pray that somehow, despite all the anguish and immense hardships I faced in the past year, soon I will be back at the airport with these heavy suitcases and a heart full of anticipation, embarking on another incredible journey.
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