Prepare your heart for quite a bit of writing and very few photos. There will be a shift in this word-to-image ratio very soon.
My grandpa picked me up and drove me to the airport--turning around only one exit from the house because I'd forgotten my coat! I arrived at the airport a few hours early and, after checking my bag--which I was convinced would be too heavy since 45-degree winter weather in one country and 90-degree summer weather in the other made packing light impossible--for the first time, allowed myself to be really excited. The trip to Kenya, in May, was postponed the day before scheduled departure so I was hesitant to allow myself to be fully excited until this trip was happening. And sitting in the airport made it so.
About halfway through the 10-hour flight, I closed my eyes in hopes of sleeping...and, instead, my mind began to wander. I thought about the memories I have with each of the friends I was going to see on this leg of the trip. These tiny snippets of conversations, many from over ten years ago, that have stuck with me--even shaped the way I think today. I thought about how long it's been since I've seen any of these friends, let alone all of them within a week! I thought about how long five weeks is. How many memories it could contain...how much friendship and laughter and learning. I began to well-up. In that moment--flying through the air, probably over an ocean, in a middle seat in a four-person row, on a full-flight--the reality of this trip finally hit me. And, out of gratitude, and a little bit of disbelief, I felt a few warm tears drip down my cheeks.
When we landed in Heathrow, all I could hear was Hugh Grant's opening monologue from Love Actually..."love actually is all around"...and couldn't help but tweet about it.
With my overweight suitcase and my new large carry-on, I schlepped my way through the airport, underground trains, an aboveground train, and a bus, to my incredibly hospitable friends' home. This is the third or four time I've stayed with them--and now they have twin two-year-old girls, so they have a full home and every right to suggest a nearby airbnb, but still offered to let me stay--they really are so amazingly hospitable.
I came in to find their daughters having lunch and introduced myself over a quick cup of tea. I changed in to warmer clothes and went out to explore this city that was once, briefly, home. I knew, if I were to sit down for too long, I would fall asleep and not be able to sleep through the night.
I headed to the Tate Modern--one of my favorite museums ever. It's next to Shakespeare's Globe, so, of course, I wandered through there too. With my blurry, tired mind, I took a couple of pictures, but with fresh eyes today, I realize just how terrible and unflattering (yes, to the buildings!) they are, so I won't bother to post them.
And then, it was time to meet my friend, Becca (whose house I'm staying at) for an after-work drink at this adorable little place called Scootercaffe. I used to walk by here all the time, since it's near my old church...and, though I've been away for years, I walked right back to it, feeling so proud of my memory.
spent a few nights at our compound in Kitale, Kenya (in 2008) so we had quite a bit to catch up on. We took the bus home and she made us dinner, while I fought to stay awake. (I only made it to 8pm...which is why this post was started at 4am.)
As I write this, there are two little redheads tiptoeing back and forth from the hallway to the room I'm sleeping in, yelling 'surprise!' each time they cross in the doorway...it's adorable and also a bit distracting...so, more soon, I suppose!