Hello from London. I left the States a day and a half ago and already this journey has been rather incredible. When I made my list of 101 dreams I felt overwhelmed by the daunting task of trying to complete all of my wishes. I had planned to place the list in a drawer and forget about it, but something magical began to happen soon after I made the list - things began to come true without my trying. That magic is what has pushed me to pursue my dreams no matter how afraid I become or how much I want to stay safe and quit. In the last few months quitting has been a skipping thought on my brain's record. In fact, as I stepped onto the train in Sacramento, on the way to my flight in San Francisco, all I wanted to do was cancel my trip, go home, curl under my covers and hide. The thought of a month alone in the unknown had my stomach rather queasy. But just as in those first months after making the list, life began to provide. As I took my seat on the train, a nice gentleman started up a conversation about his travels through Africa. He brought my passion for exploration to life as we shared stories and photos of our journeys through the continent. As he helped me with my luggage and train transfers I realized how the loud, scared voice screaming to turn around and be safe was quieting. A stranger was making me feel safer in the big wide world.
Within moments of being at the airport another gentleman (happily married with two children for those of you thinking anything), invited me to a pub on Thursday night. So as the flight took off I was feeling much better about going to London.
Then something incredible happened. As you might know, the whole reason for coming to Europe at this time of year was to see the Aurora Borealis, yet the conditions in Norway haven't been agreeable. Cloud cover has kept viewings to a minimum so I had given up on seeing the dancing lights. As we flew over the arctic circle, the pilot mentioned the possibility of seeing the lights. All I could see from my seat was the blinking light of the wing, but I told the flight attendant my desire to see the Aurora. She told me she would come and find me if they became visible. An hour later, she brought me to first class and cleared a space for me to sit by the plane's door so I could look out the window. The sky looked as if there were more stars than darkness, and just above the mist of clouds was a brilliant green dancing light. Here was a dream come true. Not in the way I had imagined (I still wish to see them from below, but this was a much warmer way to experience the light), but a dream come true just the same.
A few hours later I arrived in London rather jet-lagged, but I couldn't stay in the hotel room when there was city to explore. I walked around taking in Parliament, the Aquarium, the Thames River, and Buckingham Palace. To be honest, I was too tired to care. I decided to head back to the hotel to sleep off my grumpiness. On the way to the tube I saw a small pub called a Bag of Nails. Now normally I would return to my hotel, find a fast food place in the area and eat in my room, but this journey is about living life to the fullest and who can walk away from a pub in London called the Bag of Nails. I decided some Guiness stew would hit the spot and then I would sleep. The stew was delicious and I scoffed it down as I realized I hadn't eaten a real meal for days. Just as I was about to leave John, from Manchester, invited me to join he and his friend Nick, from Liverpool, for a drink. Well what the heck, this is about living to the max and new experiences.
John and Nick asked me why I was in London. The only answer I had was because it's on my list of dreams. I'm here just because I want to be. As they listened to me talk about the website and my journey they kept saying what a great idea it was to live my dreams. Sometimes I forget that I'm really living this life. That I'm doing things just because I want to. Then I see my life through someones vision and the reality hits me.
During our conversation I was schooled in the local customs, well actually the local language. John made the comment that I wasn't a typical American. I responded that I wasn't walking around in a white t-shirt, sneakers, and zip-off Columbia pants from REI with a fanny pack. The two men's eyes went wide and they began to laugh. "Do you know what a fanny is?" John asked. From the look on his face I realized it must not be what I thought. "In your country it's a bottom, right? Here it's a woman's bleep (I won't use the term they used in this blog but instead insert vagina).
My face flushed bright red.
"It would be best if you didn't go around talking about your fanny pack in London. Men might become quite interested," Nick laughed.
I decided a trip to the bathroom was in order at this point in time.
So as you see, it's already been quite the fun time. I'm off to make another dream come true today - to see Les Miserable. Hopefully, the jet-lag has been kicked out and I won't be falling asleep in the dark theater. I promise pictures and more news tomorrow.