We leave for England in 100 days.
By "we" I mean just Tim and I. It will be our first time away from the boys since Moses was born. And while I know I'm going to miss them (probably more than I realize) I know I'm also going to treasure my one on one time with Tim, which probably won't come again until, well, a long time from now. It's not everyday one of your best friends gets married in England and your parents offer to cover the cost of the flights (God bless them).
There's a part of me that never wants the day to come, so that I always have the joy of anticipating it's arrival. In the past - during the summers I was in college - I always returned with nervous excitement. I was single and free and there was nothing I wanted more than England. I graduated from college a year early to get there faster. At one point, England was all there was. That was the plan. It was the plan I had 7 years ago - visa in hand, job interview at the other end of the line. But of course, here I am. With a totally different story to tell. I never returned because God redirected my path and thank goodness He did because it led me to Tim and to two little boys who wouldn't be here otherwise.
But there is and always will be, I think, a little piece of my heart that stays on the other side of the Atlantic. England is like a first love that I can never forget nor can I help but be drawn to. And to come face to face with it again, after all these years, knowing full well that when those ten days are up I will have to say goodbye again breaks my heart a little. Knowing that I will have to come home with my heart fresh and vulnerable. I think I'm making this sound all very over dramatic, but in my head it makes sense. I'm sure some of you are saying "Lady, just take your trip to England, appreciate it for the amazing opportunity that it is and stop finding reasons to complain" and to that I say - Amen.
It doesn't change the fact that for me this is more than a vacation. It's a return to a place and a dream that I put away a few years ago when I knew if I kept on yearning for it the way that I did that it would kill me. I'm scared to have to say goodbye all over again. To go through a period of longing to be back. I want to go and see and love and dream and then come home and love my kids and be happy to be home. Best case scenario. I have faith that God knows all these things and will keep my heart safe with Himself.
Below are snippets from a post I wrote while I lived in England in 2006. It is a piece of a day I hold close to my heart and my 22 year old self does a much better job of encapsulating the deep connection I feel to this place. Because of course, she was there. In the present and loving every minute of it:
"...Somewhere between Warren Street and Green Park, I begin to daydream and realize two minutes too late that I've missed my stop. Circling back, I finally arrive at Waterloo and as it's one of the National Rail connection points, it's much grander than your typical London underground station. I step into the heart of a thousand paths crossing all at once, and it looks like life in fast forward. It’s almost heavenly here, with the sun streaming through the glass ceiling into this wide open white space. But time is ever the burden and there’s art to be seen so I move out onto the street, only vaguely aware of the direction I need to head in. A crowd of boisterous males temporarily clogs the flow of pedestrians, drunk on beer and England's win against Paraguay in the World Cup match of the day. I'm still warming up to the excitement surrounding the tournament. At the moment, all I'm focused on is getting back to Oxford Circus before the shops close.
...I pause outside Westminster station to take in the greatness of Big Ben - once again thrilled by the closeness and tangibility of it all. Moments later I'm plunged back into the belly of London's underground, hundreds of feet below the city streets. Here, everything moves in fast, parallel lines all headed up or down or sideways or backways. Passenger tunnels branch out in every which way, like a maze of rabbit holes, each leading to a new destination. Platforms are the only places where bodies stand still, if only in wait for the next journey onwards. The walls are peppered with brightly colored floor-to-ceiling adverts, while the train tunnels straddled at either end are a deep, smoky black abyss. Sometimes, if your eyes are quick enough, you can spy a mouse scurrying along the track line making its way, perhaps, to Paddington Station.
...Back at Euston station, I settle into my seat on the 7:54 train to North Hampton. The journey home is cast in fading sunlight, and once more I abandon my book for the beauty outside my window. From a still, small place in the back of my mind, I carefully take out the plans that sit on the edge of December and slowly weigh the options in both hands. As always, I'm left with vague impressions. But for now, in this quiet moment of solitude, all that matters is that I'm here, now, witnessing life unfolding itself before me - and there's nowhere else I'd rather be."
- June 9, 2006