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England saved my life.

05 January 2012
Seven years ago today, I was on an airplane bound for London, England.  Via Dallas. Never fly to London from Dallas - that is one miserable flight.

(And yet I am still so proud that I have managed to never use an airplane bathroom.  I have a bladder of steel.)

Seven years ago.  That's practically a lifetime.  I was just barely 18 years old, a junior in college, and totally lost in life.  I had no idea what I was doing, who I was, where I wanted to go or what I wanted to become.  I had never lived away from home.  I was struggling with severe depression and social anxiety and I was suicidal.

I promised myself that once I got back from England, I would be allowed to die.  But I had to go to England first.

And thank God I did.

In England I discovered that life didn't have to be completely miserable.  I could be whoever I wanted to be.  I didn't have to be scared to get out of bed in the morning.  There was so much to do and see and explore and eat and experience - every day was an adventure.  I discovered that I didn't have to be defined by my family or by my mistakes.  I discovered that I loved doing laundry.  I discovered that I could survive on my own and that I could make friends - lifelong friends - and that I had stuff in common with other people and that people actually liked me and appreciated my sense of humor.  I discovered that playing soccer in Hyde Park every Saturday was one of the highlights of my life (minus the time I kicked the ball straight into my professor's nethers.  Awkward.)

I was still young and stupid.  I had absolutely no money the entire time I was across the Pond - every week, my blessed grandmother would send me $20, which I would exchange for all of 10 quid (not very much, honestly.)  I was able to get a babysitting gig for a young American family that lived next door which supplemented my income a little bit.  Some weeks, instead of using the money the professors gave us to buy Oyster Cards (Tube passes), I saved it so I could buy souvenirs, supplies, or chocolate instead.  There were days I stayed in the London Centre the entire day, reading and messing around on the Internet instead of going out and exploring.

There was a time when I almost got kicked out of the Centre, because I went on a tour of the vaults of Edinburgh on my own.  At night.  I was an IDIOT.

I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to be there, though.  Truly, if I hadn't gone, I wouldn't be here today.  I remember feeling so adamant that I absolutely had to go to that very program at that very time or my chance would be gone - and it's true, because as soon as I got home I met Hawk and we married and the rest, as they say, is history.

I fell in love with the United Kingdom in 2005.  I have spent every moment since 2 May 2005 plotting ways to make it back to England.  And someday, I will go back.  It might not be tomorrow, but it will be before I'm 28.  Because 10 years is much too long between visits to my homeland.


Sad story: my camera only lasted the first month of my time in England, so I have very few pictures of my time there.  Even more reason to go back!

4 comments to England saved my life.:

Rebekah said...

I am SOOO JEALOUS! I want to go there SOOOOOOOOOO BAD!!! Good for you! Loved the picture too! ;)

Marel and Tom Stock! said...

Remember all the good times we had gallavanting around while everyone else was stuck learning about saints, signs, and symbols? Ah, the good times.

Angelica said...

What a great story. Gracias por compartir!

Michelle said...

You know what's weird... we were there at same time doing Study Abroad. I didn't know that!