We made it! I’m currently sitting on my scratchy rental white duvet in a room reminiscent of Judy Hopps’ apartment in Zootopia. There’s no AC, and because of all my suitcases it’s hard to step anywhere in the room. But it’s mine. There are pictures on the wall and orange juice in the fridge. Getting here was somewhat of an ordeal, so it feels like a victory.
Unbeknownst to my dad and I, British Air was going through a worldwide computer failure on the exact day we decided to fly. That meant that upon arriving at Dulles, we had to sit/stand at the back of the check-in line for over two hours before we could even drop our bags off. The young British woman named Izzy in front of us befriended us and began giving me advice about living in London; then a 1-year-old South African baby girl came running, squealing, up to us (followed by her dad) as we sat on the floor, and soon we were all swapping life stories and becoming old friends. It could have been a really stressful and tiring time, but as Izzy and I did word puzzles together on my phone, I thanked God for bringing me joy and friendship before I’d even left the country.
Because of the delay, our supposed 10:25pm flight became a 1:15am departure. I was grateful for the fact that I’d probably be able to sleep easier due to the late hour, because I always have trouble falling asleep on planes. For the most part, I didn’t have much luck. The cabin was freezing, I was squeezed into a middle seat, and the flight attendants never turned the overhead lights off. Thanks to an Ambien I’d been prescribed before leaving America, I did manage to get a couple hours in. When I finally woke from my fitful dozing for good, I had a cup of tea and watched the scene from The Parent Trap where Hallie goes to London for the first time. I looked at the flight map and saw we were over Cork, Ireland and I almost got teary from happiness. A great rush of anticipation and adventure filled me as I savored the feeling of being somewhere on Earth I’d never been before, a sensation I hadn’t felt for many years.
When we landed, however, my excitement at being on British soil was soon diminished by the horrible line at customs. I swear we stood there, shuffling vaguely forward every 5 minutes or so, for several gloomy days. In reality, it was about 3 hours before we had officially crossed the border. (3 hours! And all that time we could SEE the border right there, and the elation at every tiny movement was followed by the dread of seeing how much line was left.) By that time, our flight number had long since disappeared from the baggage display, and it took another long while to find our 4 huge suitcases. Then came the awkward navigation of the London Underground with all of our things (something I would have enjoyed far more had I been fed, rested, and unburdened with over 100 pounds of luggage). We rode the Picadilly line for what seemed like ages.
(My dad took this- see the hunger in my eyes?)
Getting to Ravenscourt, my stop, was a cool moment. We had a view of a gorgeous church, and it seemed like a beautiful part of the city. I turned to go out- and saw a huge flight of steps going down. I looked at my deadweight suitcases and the good feeling left me. Thankfully, a kind tube-goer helped carry one. The walk to Paddenswick Road and my dorm building was only 5 or 10 minutes, but after carrying that luggage for so long and now being so close, it felt like the longest wait of all. My t-shirt was sticking to my shoulders from my backpack, and opening the door to my tiny, cement-floored room didn’t feel like the magical moment I thought it would. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, I was running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, and I was drenched with sweat. I plopped on to the thin mattress and said, “I’ll be excited tomorrow.”
But one glorious shower and a huge meal of Indian food later, my spirits have risen considerably. The neighborhood is charming. Everyone I’ve met has been kind. I have everything I need. God has been so good to me, and I feel so loved. Travel woes aside, our journey went smoothly enough.
Before the feast of our lives
My little wall of Gordon photos already gives me so much joy
The next few days, my dad and I plan to do some shopping for the apartment, exploring of the neighborhood, and hopefully some sightseeing. I’m so ready to live here.
Until next time,