When I was 15, I came to Europe with my Grandmother. Only now do I really appreciate the effort it took her to arrange this trip. I find myself shuddering over the confusion and hassle of booking train and plane tickets and back then we didn’t have the internet. Hear that kids? There was no world wide web to log onto to compare flights, google map routes, find out where the nearest banks and grocery stores were.
We flew into London Heathrow and stayed with some friends of hers somewhere in a quiet part of the city. I remember black cabs, double decker busses, guards with fluffy hats, the Tower bridge, Trafalger square and taking an etching of something at Westminster Abbey. The other day, as I jogged through west London, I came around a corner and had the distinct and ancient feeling that I’d been on that street oh so long ago.
Since then, I’ve been to the UK a few times on my own, but today, on a train to Oxford, passing through the countryside, I see fields, brick and stone houses, a church in the middle of a field and I am reminded of the journey we took to Great Gransted… a town where two old friends of my Grandmother’s lived. I think she met them on a sailing trip to the Mediterranean. Great Gransted had one church and one main building that was the grocery store, the post office and the police station. There was an old church that had been bombed. The stained glass featured WWII planes and the headstones were cockeyed and crooked.
My grandmother was a travel journaler. She loved trains because it afforded her the leisure to gaze out the window while she filled pages with her perfect looping cursive. I think she would be proud of me for making it so that I get to travel abroad and do something that I love. I also know she would scold me for not writing about my experiences more often.
As well she should. Already, so many moments have slipped through my fingers – maybe captured in a photo or a short video, but the rest, it all slides away, stored only in the imperfect network of my billions of neurons.
(If you find new journal entries backdated, don’t be surprised. I’m catching up.)
Just a few minutes ago, the sky was blue and I felt uplifted and cheerful. Now diagonal spatters of rain speckle my window. How will Oxford find me? Uplifted, curious, drenched, tired? I see blue sky in the distance and a smiling friend meeting me in the future. I’m optimistic. There’s no other way to be.