Saturday, January 23, 2010

Returning to a Former Life...

This past week I went abroad.

And I returned to a former life.

Every once in a while I meet up face-to-face with my former life. I get all snuggled in and busy and forging forward with life-worthy goals and plans, and then I somehow sneak back to the past and remember who I was. Who I am, really, but who I've become somehow so wrapped up in the current that I've forgotten that Other Part of me. Does that make sense?

When I was young, my dear grandparents, who lived next door through the hedge, were called as mission presidents to the England London mission. We joked that we would take care of my brother Little Ben while they took care of Big Ben. They filled those three years with postcards of the Tower of London and newsclippings of Princess Diana's wedding and Paddington bears and Beatrix Potter tea sets and Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, with the occasional matching Laura Ashley dresses.

Then when I was in the Utah Valley Youth Symphony, we went on tour to London. Oh those days... Grandad and GranNomi came along to conduct the orchestra and show me, my sister, and my mom their old haunts. How I loved walking the flower-ful mews between their flat on Exhibition Road and Harrods and the Barbican performances and wandering through Oxford.

I also grew up listening to my mother's stories of her college study abroad in Salzburg. Study abroad was always a part of my college intentions, and I chose London. 27 Palace Court. Oh those four months were packed to the brim with the most amazing, life-changing, eye-opening opportunities--certainly the best undergrad decision I ever made. From running in Hyde Park to wandering through the Lake District to learning how to always carry a book to read in que to coming to the important realization that Trafalgar Square certainly is the heart of London--I loved it all.

When my friend Debbie and I backpacked through Europe before I moved to Arizona, we ended our journeys in London. And I loved it again. And again.

Well, friends, it's been over ten years. I've been a poor student. I let my passport expire. I've plunged my little heart into American history--particularly Mormon history, and I've never looked back. I've busy-ed myself with part-time jobs at all sorts of places and I've come to love the East Coast--New York City and now Washington, D.C. I've soaked in sun at the Outer Banks and I've run a couple of marathons. I've loved sewing quilts and aprons. I've had a very significant relationship and many great, dear friends. I've immersed myself in this stage of my life, and I haven't looked back.

Until now. After my dear little sister got married, I decided I needed to take the reins and do something really GREAT. So I did. I bought a plane ticket to London and persuaded my dear friend Janiece to come along (the persuasion part wasn't hard).

The minute I stepped off the plane at Heathrow, I felt like I was coming home. I forgot how much I love to travel. I love the new sites and sounds and smells, the interesting people and ideas and the different hustle and bustle of new places. I love the crowding plans of scheduling in all the important things to see and taste.

But I love England. It felt like it was in my blood. I loved feeling like I was in a familiar place. I had returned! I knew the tube stops and I embraced that ever-present English sans serif font. I remembered the old smells. I filled my lungs at Stonehenge with that ancient breath, and I felt the British wind and rain and occasional sunbeam on my cheek. I drank it all in.

Returning to a former life is invigorating. I remember ME. I remember my younger hopes and dreams and I remember my previous personalities and tastes and tendencies. And I embrace them. Somehow they give me the courage to continue pressing forward. I love the curves and dips in life, and I love looking back and seeing how it all fits together and ebbs and flows and returns. I have such high hopes for my future based on the adventure of my past.

More tidbits from England to come...


Arian Goodman Johnson said...

Thanks for a glimpse of your amazing trip and beautiful insights! Sounds like such a breath of fresh air. And you really do have British blood in you (me, too)- back to Bristol, England! How awesome to really feel that connection deep inside.

The Wyler Family said...

beautiful pics and memories!