Just a quick pause before I get going again. My laundry is rumbling in the next room. I was helpfully helped by the radiant Ariana, a 3-year-old belonging to my AirBNB hosts.
I’m a week into sleeping in other people’s beds and my back feels just fine. That was a big worry, along with the strain of walking again. My legs are screaming from walking 40+ kilometres in a week, something I’m very unfamiliar with. My nephew tried pep-talking me, thanks to the marathon-training class he’s been taking, but I suspect I’ll be suffering longer than the week of sore muscles he had.
That’s okay, though. I’ll be surrounded by buildings and streets that bleed history. Places that have been stained by blood and tears of the millions who have preceded me. Battlefields and fertile grounds. Cobblestones and gas street lamps. It calls for walking, even if in a little pain. I can handle this.
I know what to expect, but I don’t know what to expect. Know what I mean? I spent just a couple weeks in England at the age of 17 but I’ve never been in Europe proper. I’ve never been surrounded by foreign languages (other than all the Asian spoken here in Vancouver) and been the odd one out, gesticulating and doing charades just to be understood.
I’ve seen Roman ruins and cobblestones before, but I was a foolish young girl who thought I’d be back a half-decade later. Here it is, a quarter-century later and I’m finally packing up my bags.
I’m asked daily if I’m excited or freaking out, but people don’t realize how much emotional legwork I’ve had to do in the last 18 months to get this courage. The panic has long since settled in and now it’s just a low rumbling that’s omnipresent, along with excitement and joy.
It’ll likely be a good long time before this fades and I get a grasp on a new “normal” for me. Luckily my new normal will never get boring, dull, old, or routine. My new normal will come with new languages, cultures, and sights just about every day.
My life will be rife with learning and curiosity–food for any good writer.
In 24 hours, I’ll be rushing around town with my best friend in order to run a final few errands. In 28 hours, I’ll be waiting in the international departures wing in the world’s best airport, YVR, trying to keep my breath steady and not freak out. In 48 hours (including an 8-hour time zone difference), I’ll be flying south over England, about to land at Heathrow.
I feel sorry for whoever’s next to me on the plane — I’m bound to launch into an ugly cry as the immensity of my next few days hits. After all, science shows we’re most likely to cry on a plane. But that’s okay. I’ve earned that cry. Gotta get it outta my system so the joy has room to roam.
If you don’t hear from me for a week, you should follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, where I’m updating more often. Facebook is a great place to get a sense of little moments when I just stop to take stock.
Catch ya on the flipside, readers. It’s been a slice.