For five long weeks I stayed hunkered down in Britain. For the whole of December, the holidays and into the New Year, I was put up by my loving, distant family, whose relationship is too complicated and personal to post on an internet blog. Nonetheless, I am eternally grateful and thankful to both of them.
A lot of my winter was spent, thankfully, indoors. I only managed to get through two chapters over the month but hey, it was somewhere to relax and rest up over the holidays; everyone needs a break. Their air mattress was surprisingly comfortable and the meals we had were warm and rich. Gone were the quick heated noodles and sandwiches, replaced by fancier- noodles and sandwiches. All those little things, those little comforts we take for granted were returned to me for a time; a private bathroom, television, reliable internet and a freezer to store all my delicious ice cream.
For a day, we went out exploring the countryside. An hour away, and just at sunrise, we were at Stonehenge. It was beautiful, or that’s what I want to say; the sky was already grey with whipping winds and sideways rain. We approached as close as we could, with my nice hiking shoes slipping in the mud. And though the weather was abysmal, and we were cold and wet, the few shots we got were great, and the experience was as memorable as could be.
The weather swayed back and forth, from fleeting sunlight to torrential downpour for the rest of the day. Accidentally finding the white horse of Marlborough, the sun glowed for us behind the mist. When wandering through the standing stones of Avebury, we were soaked the moment we stepped out of the car. At the Lacock Abby, we toured the property and found a few memorable locations from the first Harry Potter movie. A pair of young ladies came in dressed in old fashioned caroling attire. Just as we were leaving, they started to sing. I stopped. The voices were gentle, emotional; a style of almost Gregorian chant. Slowly, I pulled my phone and recorded the end of their piece. It still gives me shivers. NOTE: If anyone knows what song their singing, please leave a comment.
They left me, my family, for 12 days. They had some prior commitments with other relatives so I had the place to myself. As much as I want to say I got up to some crazy shenanigans, I didn’t. I kicked back and relaxed, letting Christmas pass by with little thought. I did get a care package from home and enjoyed the contents, as well as the few gifts my family here left me. It was near two weeks of Disney movies and Friends reruns (both on TV), a little bit of work, chatting with friends and family back home and a lackluster attempt at finishing yet another chapter of Acazia: SoC.
They came home on New Years Eve, so we had a little time to converse before I took off to the fireworks in downtown London. Now- that damn train. Should have been 30 minutes, but took almost 50. Why? Some dumb, probably drunken moron pulled the emergency stop. So on the hot train, filled with partygoers, we all waited as the conductor made his quick maintenance check. All clear. The conductor made his announcement: “We’ll be heading out in just a minute to get everyone to their New Year’s destination- some people are just idiots.” The whole train laughed, until- the alarm went off again. The conductor did his routine, and went back on the PA. “Please stop pulling the levers; we’ll be on our way in just a moment.” The alarm went- again. An angry gasp escaped the passengers; including me AND the conductor over the PA system. Then a fourth time. By now, the once laughing passengers were agitated; rightfully so. Finally, finally, we got moving. There was a massive round of applause as we traveled the 3 more stations, 8 MORE MINUTES down the track to our destination. That full train emptied in thirty seconds flat.
Not going to lie, that soured the experience a little. After clearing the station and wandering the streets for a while, I found a nice little bridge I thought would be a nice spot. Apparently, so did a lot of other people. I squished into the crowd, hearing languages of French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and all flavors of East Asian I couldn’t tell apart. I hugged the column at the very end of the bridge and watched the last minute of the 2010’s count down. When everyone else raised their camera’s, so did I.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1-
January 2020 /
A rainbow of sparkling colors exploded on the black backdrop of the night sky. The fireworks sounded like thousands of popping balloons near the London Eye. 2020 was here, with a continuous bang and cheers. As friends hollered and sang, families with little ones hugged and couples kissed, I stood alone thinking of a decade ago. What was different, what had changed and why they had done so? Compressing 10 years into 10 minutes, I realized that over the last decade, though filled with good moments, I had achieved- nothing. The plans I had were gone; shattered. None of the big 3 things I wanted when I was 18 were accomplished. With joyous singing and chatter around me, a cold touched my toes. With no ~~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~~~, no ~~~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~~~~ and no ~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~ ~~~, I stood alone.
“2030,” I said. “You’ve got 10 years self. Don’t you DARE be standing here unfulfilled again.”
“Alright,” other me said, “10 years to get all that done? You’re on.”
And I smiled.
It was a long trip home, and I was not taking that train again (mainly because it wasn’t running again.) In the tunnel back to the station, the choir continued. Deafening whistles echoed in the stone tube, accompanied by a constant flow of shouts and cheers. The queue back into the train station was the biggest lineup I think I’ve ever seen. It must’ve been twenty to thirty people wide and the length was undeterminable. Let’s just say it took a constant 10 minute walk from the back of the line to the front. I scurried through the underground, which continued with smaller queue’s and took the two trains home. I marched through the night back and by the time I finally took my shoes off and laid in bed, it was almost 3 am.
Almost done I promise. Over the next weekish, we figured out the next few steps of my journey and booked all the flights I needed. We did a little more running around town; went to the Imperial War Museum, restocked my supplies and enjoyed the last of each other’s company with an array of movies and chat. When the day came, I was up at 3, out the door by 4 and to the airport by 5. With one last hug goodbye, I went through security where I waited for my flight. I boarded, jumped the pond again, and landed at Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland a little after 8 in the morning.