Leaving for London

essay

In nine hours, I will be on a plane heading for London.


It finally hit me yesterday: the reality of the whole thing. The fact that I will be in London for two months, a place I’ve wanted to go to ever since I was 8 or 9 and re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so often the book fell apart. I have been fascinated by British culture pretty much all my life: in fact, I remember in middle school doing a presentation on the differences between American English and British English (the only clear thing I remember, though, is giving the example, “I’m mad about my flat” as a phrase that is completely different depending on what side of the pond you are on).

I have never been out of the country. Outside of moving to LA, the few times I managed to get out of Kansas City (or St. Louis, for pre-college) area were mostly school-based. I went to Oklahoma for an honors conference, twice. Went to Texas A&M, also for an honors conference. Came out here to LA back in 2008 for my fellowship that started it all. And when I was 7, my grandparents took me (and my cousin) on a car trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

But that’s it. That’s, in all honesty, all I really expected from my not-exactly-rolling-in-cash life. Rich and I often talked about taking trips various places, but Chicago was the extent of my what-I-could-afford fantasies, with perhaps a chance of Disneyland should finances actually take a turn for the better. While London was a dream, and a place I always wanted to visit, I had relegated it to the idea of ‘if I ever won the lottery’.

I guess I won the lottery.

I admit: the last couple of weeks, as it got closer, I felt a lot of the same emotions I felt when I finally decided to come to LA to get my master’s degree. Yes, I’m excited at the prospect of this new opportunity. And there’s been more than one time when I’ve asked myself when THIS became my life. But that excitement is shot through with a dose of healthy fear at the prospect of how different things will be, with an ounce of dread of all that could possibly go wrong.

I haven’t talked about it a lot. I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I talk about it, it will stop being true. There also is the mental block that I don’t want to talk about it so much that the reality will have trouble keeping up. And, to a small extent, I also haven’t wanted to revel in it around Rich, since he’s not going.

But I am excited. Excited and scared, to quote Into the Woods. I’m going to be in London for two months. I will be in a new place where I don’t really know anyone, in a new culture I am unfamiliar with (despite how much BBC television I watch). But I have a ticket to see Richard III starring Martin Freeman on opening night. I have a ticket to a Doctor Who event that will have people from the show (old Who, mostly) there. The group is going to Stonehenge the day before my birthday. I have plans for eventual trips to Baker Street, the Kilns, Cardiff, and Stratford Upon Avon.

And I will most definitely be mad about my flat. Yeah. I think it’s finally hit me.