When I started my journey, I wasn't sure when I would start traveling alone and for exactly how long I would be alone. I had Laura in Oz, my family for a bit in Italy and I knew I would meet up with Jodi at some point. But, I felt certain that when the time came I would be prepared to take the jump into the deep end, even without my little orange arm floaties. Thought it might be like a "Mommy Wow, I'm a big kid now!" kind of moment. Things worked out where I spent the first portion of my trip with Laura, my family and Jodi and I planned to set aside the end of my trip for myself. So, instead of getting pushed into the deep end like I thought I would be, I essentially waded into the pool, step by step, gradually getting used to the feel of the water and learning to swim. You would think, this is a good way to learn. And it was, to many extents. However, I'm realizing that the longer you wait to submerge yourself in the cold water, the more difficult it becomes and the quicker your breaths become. I mean, what if there are sharks, or something done there? Now, the time has come to dunk myself and my anxiety seems higher than it should be at this point. I'm in a much different place than I was even one month ago in all that I have learned from bouncing between countries. But there is still so so much to learn. There are still many mistakes and typical travel mishaps to encounter, but this time I will only have myself to comfort myself and make it comical in order to avoid frustrations and tears. That all being said, with this apprehension also comes an intense ping of excitement. I mean after all, it is a bit exhilarating to finally go completely underwater and emerge to a refreshed world, right? So, now I take a deep breath and wait for the wave.
I left Jodi in the Gallieni metro station in Paris as I boarded my bus to London. She planned to board a plane to Scotland later in the evening. Soo...now it's just me. After nearly 3 months of travel, I am officially on my own in a foreign country. It's a strange feeling, as Jodi and I have literally been together every hour of the day for a month and a half. I feel a little bit like I've lost an appendage, especially when I turn to the right and ask, out of habit, for Jodi to hold something, only to find the unsavory French fella in the subway looking all too eager to hold my belongings. Or when I go to lay my head on the shoulder of my bus buddy and realize that nope, I do not in fact recognize that shoulder and certainly should not be snuggling with it. Hmm, yes, I must be more careful. If I thought I was tired of being on high alert when there was two of us, I'm more than a little concerned for how hyper-vigilant I will now have to be on my own. I've been practicing my ninja moves and I think if I just swing myself to the left and then to the right really quickly, my toddler-sized backpack will surely generate enough force to disarm any potential attackers. No worries, Mama, I got this covered.
The first song that came on my Ipad when I sat down in the bus was a song called London Skies..will you let me romanticize, the beauty in our London skies..The second song was Man in the Mirror..gonna make a change, for once in my life, gonna be real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right..if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change...The third song was Ridin' Solo..I'm feelin like a star, you can't stop my shine, I'm riding cloud nine, my head's in the sky...If my life were a sound track I'd say I might buy that album. I feel good; I feel like I'm on the right path.
The day of separation (that's what I'm calling it now) was a tricky one. It began with our train from Bayeux to Caen being about 25 minutes late. Meaning we would have 5 minutes to print our bus tickets, check in and find our bus after we landed at the train station. Thankfully, our bus was late but those thanks were quickly retracted as we couldn't even board the bus because the bus station was closed with nowhere to print tickets. New plan. Bought new train tickets to Paris and boarded with 15 minutes to spare. Spent about 1 1/2 hours at the bus station in Paris trying to print my ticket to London. After a less than helpful information desk, an internet/printer kiosk with no ink, two hotels, an ATM and an internet cafe I had my tickets in hand and waved them proudly to anyone who passed by as we had once again triumphed against the tricky travel odds! I then spent about 7 hours on a bus to London. This included a ride in the Eurotunnel..which is something entirely confusing to me..the bus stood still inside this tube thing which rocked like a boat and had no windows and looked like a tunnel..for over an hour..I'm not typically a claustrophobic person, but that definitely did the trick. Sometimes, I just want to get in my Honda Civic and drive down a familiar, open country road:)
So, now I am in London, back among those who sprecken the English. Hooray for English speaking people!! I felt like a 1st grader who had just discovered the skill of reading as we drove into London - I was eating up all those English words on the billboards and shop windows, amazed at myself for having the ability to string together letters and symbols to make real words!! Oddly enough however, I am finding it an interesting process, this re-acclimating to an English culture thing. I laughed at myself at the underground when I literally had to shake my head and crane my ear closer to the guy at the snack bar because the English language sounded so foreign to me. Sounds stupid I know, but it's true - I wasn't expecting English in return so it took me a moment to decipher the accent and realize, yep, thats english. In my defense, some of the English people here do have pretty strong accents that take some getting used to. As I walked down the streets today, I felt myself being somewhat hesitant to ask for directions because I am so used to employing large hand gestures and animated facial expressions in order to get a semi-understandable response. It can be a bit exhausting. But, now I must sit on my hands and tone down the animation because I'm guessing the charade game might come across as a little over-zealous. The currency jumble is another fun game I'm accustomed to playing - this is when I dump all the contents of my wallet into my palm and offer it up to the waitress, as usually have no clue what any of the coins mean on my first day in a country. Pence? Pound? Peso? I don't know!!! I'm super excited to see ice cubes back in the glass and had a lovely glass of FREE water with my lunch today. I sipped it slowly and tried to make it last forever. I found myself a little annoyed at the good service the waitress provided - she tried to take my order twice before I was ready and asked me at least three times if I was doing ok..how dare her be so on top of things!! I was afraid I would miss the slow pace of European dining, and it didn't take long:)
I still have so much to write about all my experiences and all I have seen. I'm several countries behind and plan to do a country recap soon. Until then, cheers!:)