Europe is a dream that I wake up from almost every day with only bits and pieces sticking out in my mind. So I’m still struggling to figure out how to write about it – how to put the dreamy bits and pieces into sentences – how to put something into words that you still spend time convincing yourself actually happened.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up travelling. Most of the people I know don’t remember the first time they saw the ocean, the first time they got on a plane, the first time they saw mountains. I do. I did all of these things what feels like yesterday, and a couple months ago I got on a plane to a different continent and I remember it like it’s etched into the back of my hand. I remember what it’s like to go through customs in a large airport for your very first time because that only just happened for me. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference that it was my first time travelling – maybe everybody who does it feels this way – this quirky and surreal sort of way. But maybe not.
Regardless, on Wednesday July 26th I got on a plane in Toronto and on Thursday July 27th I hugged my something-like-a-soul-mate, Shawdy, in an airport in London, England. This, is where the world stopped. And this is where it began again about 5 weeks later. I’m going to try and tell you about that – from mismatched memories and a journal full of scribbles, spelling errors, and things I shouldn’t write online. I’m going to try and tell you about it because I feel like it’s about time.
We were almost awkward and mostly excited and I ran towards her in the arrivals section of the airport like the moment we had been imagining since the day we hugged goodbye in departures. We spent the next 5 days falling back into rhythm as though it had never left, torn between whether this was all a dream or if the year and a half we had spent apart was the portion we had slept through.
I was the farthest from home I had ever been. Staring at cobblestone like I had never seen it before and walking down streets that seemed unfamiliar in every way. The first night I was too tired to be nervous. But the second night – the second night I wasn’t tired enough.
The first several days in London are a blur of meeting family and many family friends and trying to keep track of everybody’s names. I tried to piece together the history of the person I had become so close with now that I had met the people she had grown up with and I wanted to soak it all in.
I wish I had written more in my journal about these first days than I did. Instead I have the scattered overview – the visit to Cambridge and walking down cobblestone holding hands and letting go 10 seconds later and sometimes 12 – the most beautiful wedding reception I had ever seen with water that tasted expensive and the first Galaxy bar I had ever tasted – that night we danced and you were good and I was bad and it felt exactly like old times. We took Jager bombs and the distance between us all those months collapsed into thin air behind us, and it didn’t matter anymore. This is what it’s like to be best friends.
London was our starting point and our ending point for the trip we had designed. I didn’t really see much of the city and that was okay because we knew I’d be back. In London we found our groove, we packed our backpacks far too heavy and we tried to book a few hostels in advance. London felt real though, the world still moved for the first few days; we were only just starting to dream our way through the weeks.
At the end of the week and just when August was beginning we boarded a plane to Paris and when the wheels left the concrete runway the world stopped for the 48 or so days that we were gone. The world stopped and we began dreaming until about 5 weeks later when the wheels came back down and the world started all over again.
If those weeks are dreams, then they are the best one’s I have ever had.