What a sad week. I never thought that I would ever type these words into my blog, but…
I love London.
I love it. Sure, the people are a little gray but they're not all bad. And the weather isn't always the nicest in the winter, but this spring has been beyond beautiful (and, to be honest, a lot nicer than it has been at home in New Jersey). London is a beautiful city. I mean, look at it. It's gorgeous. I love walking around the London Bridge Pier. I love sitting in Trafalgar Square. I love window shopping (and too often actual shopping) on Oxford Street, and trying samples in Borough Market. Hummingbird on Portobello Road has the best red velvet cake cupcakes that have ever been made, and St. Paul's Cathedral is the most incredible cathedral I have ever seen. I love walking through the gardens in Regent's Park, visiting Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and waving to the Queen by Buckingham Palace.
Everyday when I leave my flat, I get a “Hello, sweetheart!” from Hot Dog Man. I go into the tube station, and I can go over and pet the schnauzer by the table where the guy sells something which I honestly have never paid attention to because I’m too interested in the schnauzer. Then wherever I’m going, whatever I’m doing, I have gained a whole new confidence that I will be able to get there. I’ve mastered the tube, and I’ve become more independent than I ever thought possible here. Am I still terrified of being lost? You bet I am… but I no longer let that stop me. Sure, I might need to walk around for a bit longer than most people trying to find my destination. I find it though… and if I don’t, I don’t panic anymore. If me five months ago saw me now, I'd be amazed. I wouldn’t believe it. And I love that.
I have not found out more about myself from this experience. I have always been incredibly self-aware, so this did not open my eyes to something I did not previously know. I have changed though. I have learned new things about myself because I have developed new things about myself. I have always been a strong, confident, independent woman, but that is amplified now. I can do things on my own. I can travel to a foreign country and find my way around. I can get myself to a bus stop to take a bus to the airport to take a plane to a foreign airport to take public transportation to my hostel and then figure out my way around a city I have never been to before. I’ve done it numerous times. Hell, going to Milan is going to be my 18th flight of the year so far.
I started my conquering from the very first week here, when I immediately became a big deal in London by being on VIP guest lists for celebrity clubs and receiving free bottles of Grey Goose vodka and dancing on stage. I had an unreal amount of publicity at the Royal Wedding, being photographed over 100 times, and appearing in several newspapers and various radio broadcasts. Hell, even today on my last day in London I was asked to be a model and spent an hour being photographed.
But London, you have been a tough one to conquer. I conquered Morocco, France four times, The Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain with ease, but you weren’t so willing. You fought me every step of the way, and I must admit several times I thought you had me beat. So many times I felt like throwing in my white flag, calling it quits, and saying, “Kate the Conqueror has been conquered.” But I didn’t. No, I fought back. I gave it shot after shot, and finally, by this last month, I can say that I love you, London. You put up a tough, gray exterior, but I know that’s not all true. I have found you out. It took much longer than my other conquests, but I think we needed that time. We needed that time to really find each other out, London. And we're better for it. I truly believe that if life takes me back to London, if this is where I need to be for my career, I can handle it now.
And so, I say with nothing but love in my heart, London, United Kingdom: Conquered.
Now, on to the next adventure.
Now, on to the next adventure.
Kristen, Izabela, Cori, and I. Last shot in front of Tower Bridge. =(