Though beliefs are such a huge part of who we are and what we do every day, I’ve realized time and again that talking about them isn’t always so easy, and this time would be no different. As I ran through the topics I could discuss in this essay in my mind, I kept mentally scratching more off the list. I read through other essays…everything I could think of had been done, and done better than I thought I could do it. I continued re-examining, and then it hit me, and I should have known it all along. I had to write about the one place I love the most. I had to write about my belief that everyone should find a place in the world that makes them their happiest, that fuels them to do whatever it is that they love to do, that place that you can hardly stand to be away from. I found this place in August of 2006 and my fate was sealed. I would never want to turn back, even though I had to.
I guess it all really started with hearing the stories my whole life from my mom. She’d lived there on study abroad during college. The stories weren’t full of detail about what she’d seen. They simply represented this part of her that I wanted to gain for myself. So we made the plans to go there together the summer after I graduated from high school. But life was busy, and it didn’t happen. She promised me we would make it there someday.
That someday came the next summer, after my freshman year of college. We just decided to go one day, and a couple weeks later, we were there. The flight was long, and a combination of excitement and lack of leg room kept me from sleeping a wink on the entire flight. We finally made it to our hotel after lots of aimless searching, and despite the exhaustion, I wanted to get going.
I could feel myself falling in love with the city right away. It suited me in some way I still have a hard time explaining. We spent a little over a week exploring, and I saw the places that she’d seen, that had become a part of her. It all ended a little too soon. I didn’t want to leave, but school was starting again and we had to go back to real life, life away from the city that had left a mark on me that would never disappear.
I’d always planned on going on a study abroad of my own, and the time finally came about a year later. I was going back to the place that I had already fallen in love with, this time to live there for four months. I filled my time with museum explorations, repeat visits to favorite restaurants, sketching in the park, nights at the theatre, and lots of intentionally getting “lost” so I could learn more about this place. I found new favorite places to spend my time within this amazing city literally every day. I was more artistically inspired than I had ever been before. I gained a sense of independence that I never thought I could. I learned a ton- about the city, about the history, about the other students, about myself. It was all more than I ever thought it could be, but it still wasn’t enough. It ended too soon again.
London completely changed me. That certainly sounds cliché, but it’s absolutely true. I haven’t been the same since the day I stepped onto the Underground with my mom. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about all that it is to me, about how entwined it has become into who I am and what I want to be. London is like a friend, who I met, loved immediately, then had to leave behind and can’t talk to now. A piece of me is missing, a piece that won’t be filled until I’m there for good. And now I spend my days dreaming about how I will be there for good someday.
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