And so it comes to an end..this will be my last post whilst in London. I leave Nido in about three hours to head towards Heathrow in hopes that I will make my flight without any complications.
Today is the day before I leave; I got up early and went to the Victoria and Albert museum with Rachel, Courtney, Kelsey, Annabel and Jess. We had a few laughs on the way, slightly distracted, but right after walking in Kelsey goes…”Sara! Oh my god, oh my god, that is Isla Fisher….” I didn’t believe her at first so I circled around and the next thing I knew I was asking her for a photograph. At first I was star struck but she was sweet and I discovered she was Australian! She pulls off that American accent in movies very well. So crazy that she happened to be there when we were. She is in Hot Rod, Wedding Crashers, Definitely Maybe, Confessions of A Shopaholic. I told her I was a fan and politely thanked her and the older man she was with for their time, such a friendly woman.
Afterwards, we went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and I shared a last crepe with Kelsey – we were sure to get our favorite, nutella. They may not have measured up to the crepes we got in Paris but delicious all the same. The Christmas market feel reminded me a little bit of Paris too. While there, I bought a bag of mixed sweets, by this time I know my British cousins’ favorites, to take to the Wheatley’s home as a going away treat. It was very crowded with various rides, attractions, portable shops and some entertainers. We stayed in Winter Wonderland till sunset – it was beautiful watching the sun fall over the pond in the park. Then just before we completely lost the sun, the girls and I found a long bench near the edge of the pond. At this point, we were all very nostalgic and growing sad as our time was limited together. One thing I love about London, is it never gets too cold. There isn’t the chill or ice we get in Iowa. Your skin doesn’t ache to the touch of the air and there is very rarely snow. At one point, there was a swan (which you might be interested to know all the swans are owned by the queen) that decided to attack or come at us. We all had a great giggle about it and Rachel proceeded to chase the swan off. I will miss the fact that she finds such pleasure in chasing swans and pigeons – always a fun sight. Finally, we headed back to Nido to freshen up for our separate evening plans.
I was off to the Wheatley’s house for supper shortly after we left Winter Wonderland. When I got there the boys were in their pajamas and sprawled out on the couches. They have been down with a bug for a couple days and missed some school. This, no doubt, fueled fueled some of their energy, three boys cooped up in a house for a couple of days is bound to cause some rough housing. I think only Tarka is left sick now. But when I got there and told them I had brought them sweets, Guy’s face just lit up! Their reactions made my heart happy, I have really grown fond of them – in the way that I am so close to my cousins at home. It wasn’t too long until the sweets were fully eaten and I was rewarded with a kind word in that I did well in picking out the different kinds.
For supper Jane made chicken and mushrooms, peas, and mashed potatoes – always some wine poured in the chicken while cooking. It was as delicious as ever and couldn’t have asked for a more perfect meal to leave London with. I set the table with the boys, as per usual, and set out wine glasses for Jane and myself (Jos always drinking beer). I can attribute my new love for wine to Jane, as she always as new wines and our conversation grows more intriguing as the bottle is emptied. The boys were allowed a little wine while Hal looked up my flight and what kind of plane I would be flying on. He is such a smart boy, I envy their schooling in that it is more challenging at an earlier age. They know multiple languages and instruments – I wish I had been that challenged at that age. I showed them some American TV shows and they showed me some of their favorite ones I hadn’t heard of – the same with actors both British and American. I really felt they were not only my family by blood but I could feel they were family by bond as well. Jane also showed off some holiday pictures and letters; I read Sammy and John’s Christmas letter with some really good with all of the pictures!
I left around eleven to head home and pack – something I far too often procrastinate on. It was so hard to leave and to think I won’t get to see them for a long time is difficult. What gets to me most, is I won’t get to see them grow, hear how their day was at school or how football practice went, etc. When I said my final good bye after hugs and everything I turned and Guy and Tarks were on the stair case, Hal was to my left and Jane to my right with Jos leaning against the stair case. It was quite the picture perfect moment and will remain imprinted in my mind for a long, long time to come. They have made such an amazing impact on my life and took my experience in London to a whole new level. I am so blessed to have such great and accepting relatives. I can’t imagine having been here without them and the homey feeling. I feel slightly over privileged in comparison to my American friends here because I had the Wheatley’s. I had a family born and bread in London which allowed me to indulge in the culture on a entirely different level. I got a hug from each of the boys and Jos then a kiss from Jane before turning and walking down the front steps of their town home on Tufnell Park Road. I opened the garden gate and took a left down Tufnell Park towards Holloway Road Station and that’s when I got the inescapable lump in my throat. It was a similar feeling to when I had to depart from my dad and sister after they dropped me off at college for the first time. Where your heart aches in your chest and you have a strong desire to run back and say “Wait, what if I stay?”. But instead, I took a right on Holloway Road, while trying to memorize my route; taking in the El Molino and Argos Extra I had passed each time I came for a visit, but had never took the time to notice.
After returning to Nido and finishing packing, I walked down the hall to my friend’s flat, as planned, to stay up until about 2 in the morning, just to chat – with Kelsey, Rachel, Annabel and Courtney. We had some last laughs – a whole trip of laughter caught in one night – and spent the early hours of the morning loving on our memories and each other. We made plans to visit for a reunion with them, though I know that is far out of reach and I wanted to stay right there in that moment. It is definitely comforting to know that I will have them to call and text when things get hard at home when I am struggle to adjust back to reality. I know that they will be struggling with the same things. The jokes and experiences that I have now – only they will understand and appreciate in the same way. It will be difficult to not be able to express with my friends at home without losing the story in explanations. I am not sure if that makes sense but I am in uncharted waters.
I am actually getting that lump in my throat now as I think about ending this last post. My time living in London has ended but the experiences that have shaped me that I get to take home, in a way, trumps that sadness. I have gained and earned so much – I am happy, with what I have done with my time here. The consequences with basketball will be a struggle for the next few weeks from being home and I know it’ll hit me after a week that I miss everyone and England. That will be difficult but I will have my friends at school and teammates there to bring back my reality!
Love you all and I will call you when I land in Texas. And one last thank you to each and every one of you for making this opportunity a real possibility for me – without Bob, Grandma, Jean and Dad I would not have had the courage on my own. It seemed so out of reach just a year ago. But with your encouragement, sacrifices and the person that you have all shaped me into becoming has allowed me to prosper in ways I never believed possible.
See you soon.