Sunday, February 01, 2009

Getting to Know Me

Yes, I wore my comfortable old blue jeans in a fashionable district of London but that's just the way I am. Some things never change.


During my extended blog leave last fall, I did something quite out of character. With the enthusiastic support and encouragement of family and friends I took a rather spur of the moment trip to London, England. Although I had the company of a very close friend for the first few days and (emergency) back-up via a blogging acquaintance who resides there, I was essentially on my own for five days.

This was a tremendous milestone in my (for lack of a better term) new life. I’d always wanted to return to England since last there at the age of twenty-one but had never envisioned myself crossing the ocean to visit this beautiful city on my own.

Never say never.

Making the decision to go was like accepting a dare, seizing an opportunity for change and challenging myself. What a tremendous sense of accomplishment to have done all three.

My time in London was wonderful – both in terms of knowledge gained about myself and regarding all I saw and did. I checked out the usual tourist sites, walked for miles (well, it seemed like miles), met, spoke and laughed with some great people (only a few whackos) and experienced a very special moment of wonder and clarity while in Trafalgar Square.

As a woman walked by she turned to me with a big smile and said, “Have a lucky day, luv.”

Not a good day or a nice day but a lucky day.

And that sunk in. I was lucky. I was in London – a place I thought I’d never see again – sitting and enjoying the sun and the fascinating crowds of people in Trafalgar Square after having just seen an amazing Annie Leibovitz exhibit at The National Portrait Gallery. It actually all felt a bit surreal. (Okay, so reality did intrude - I’d had to move once to get away from some guy who chose me as his audience for a political harangue about the insidious evils of communism invading England but that was easily done.)

Would I take such a trip again? Not sure. I’m really not an Eat, Pray, Love kind of adventurous soul.

But to have actually done it? To have learned that I am capable of doing such a thing on my own? That was a treasured, valuable gift this trip provided beyond anything London itself could offer.


Of course I visited The British Library and, no, I was not picking my nose.

21 comments:

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Though you think you are a shy sort, if you read your blog over the past year you will see that you are indeed courageous. Follow your heart and do what you like while you are still young enough to enjoy it.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never been Europe, even though my brother got married over there. Sounds like a great time-out from the daily grind. I'm envious.

JR's Thumbprints said...

been (to) Europe

I gotta quit typing so fast.

oreneta said...

BCN next hon....no?

sherry lee said...

Bee said...

I often wonder what we have in ourselves (courage, talents, strength) that has gone undiscovered or untested.

Bravo, Beth!

(But next time you come to London, please do get in touch!)

Dick said...

With so many of us living within an hour or so of London, we could have had a gathering! Next time...

Beth said...

Guy:
Both the compliment and the words of advice are duly noted and very much appreciated.

JR:
Your daily grind is far more onerous than mine. Take a break whenever and wherever you can.

JR:
A writer's curse.

Oreneta:
Some day? Maybe? I'm thinking...

Sherry Lee:
A :) and a thank you!

Bee:
I'm discovering so many things.
And, yes, if there is a next time - for sure!

Dick:
Had I known you all a little better back then... Perhaps there will be a next time. I can hope.

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

I can hear it now, "it was a scratch, not a pick!" Thanks, I always wanted to use that line. London in the autumn. Sounds delicious.

Lainey-Paney said...

To me...traveling alone, and shopping alone are...blissful. Nobody's needs or wants to tend to but my own.
I don't consider it a selfish indulgence---I consider it adventurous, and rejuvenating!
Kudos to you.

Lainey-Paney said...

...I went to Cairo alone to celebrate graduating from college.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I went to London for the first time in 2007. Courtney (the middle child) was doing a semester abroad. London is awesome. Of course, a grilled cheese and a glass of wine cost $117 American, but still.

Thanks for sharing!

VE said...

That's awesome Beth! I've been there a couple of times. Did some recordings with the Beatles, had lunch with the queen, ran a prank at Picadilly square with the Monty Python gang. The usual stuff. I'm sure you did the same. Seriously, I'm envious. It is indeed a challenge to go somewhere on your own. I did that down to South and Central America after my divorce and it was good. Well...dinner by myself was the hardest. Keep on pushing yourself! (but not in your nose like in that picture) ;)

Beth said...

Bodhi Chicklet:
Happy to oblige! ;)

Lainey-Paney:
My first trip to England was to celebrate graduating from university - a gift from my grandmother. (I was flat broke.) You and I were lucky.

Cheri:
I had to stop converting $$ to lbs. or I would have starved!

VE:
Alas, no recordings or pranks for me - just a quiet dinner with Paul McCartney and John Cleese. ;)
(Apparently apres divorce/separation travel is good for the soul.)

Trish said...

How fabulous is that?! What an inspiration!

I have toyed with the idea of traveling alone somewhere but always chicken out in the end . . . maybe one day, maybe one day.

Looks like fun and of course comfy blue jeans are a must :)

patricia said...

So happy for you! Those are great shots (and sorry, but it sure does look like you're picking your nose in front of the British Library. But good for you for visiting the library!)

I'm 45, and I still get a bit nervous about traveling long distances on my own (I haven't flown on a plane by myself since I was in my mid-20s).

So I'm might proud of you and your great adventure (and a little envious!) Can't wait to hear all about it...

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Hi Beth. I have another award to add to your collection - the Marie Antoinette award - trot on over to see me if you care to accept!

Psychgrad said...

You go Beth! Pathetically, I occasionally have anxious dreams where I decide to travel overseas on my own. It must be some sort of subconscious fear (if you're into dream interpretation), so I would like to travel on my own one time. Good on you for doing it!

It's funny how Trafalgar Square brings moments of clarity. I think it's the feeling of being in the centre of things, yet right beside the Canadian embassy.

Beth said...

Trish:
It was a fabulous trip - and just so you know, I took along some "nice" grown-up clothes, too!

Patricia:
Would I have posted such a picture if I was??? (Maybe....)

Bodhi Chicklet:
Will check it out - thanks!

Psychgrad:
Canada House = "security." Quite possible!

Cheryl said...

I'm not surprised at all that you took this trip. You have an inner strength that comes through with every post. When I was reading it, I thought about Eat,Love and Pray. What an amazing thing to do, good for you.

I hope that I have the courage to do the same thing. I'm craving alone time, away just to get to know me.

Loved the photos too!
XXXXX

Barrie said...

Sounds like a wonderful adventure. How fun to discover you're secretly brave!