I’ll spare you all the gory details of the last few days before I left the country. In short, I didn’t allow myself enough time to mentally prepare myself for my journey – I only had a day and a half to pack – my brother broke his collarbone, and I had three doctor’s appointments the week I left (one of which was on the day I left).
All this basically left me with a few hours to pack as much as I could cram into my allotted luggage allowances.
Even after cutting out all the unnecessaries, I was still seriously pushing the size requirements. I looked ridiculous next to the simple and tidy business travelers.
Anyway, as the hours ticked toward D-Day, I started getting nervous.
I had a one-way ticket in my hand, and I was going somewhere where everything from the people I saw everyday to the groceries I bought was going to be different. I was ripping life as I knew it off like a bandaid.
I was also putting all my hopes and dreams on the line.
But despite the paralyzing fear I experienced, I couldn’t shake the remaining sliver of optimism and excitement.
That’s when a weird, previously unheard from patriotism attacked.
I found t-shirts that I was sorely tempted to buy.
Or better yet, with Scotland’s independence movement:
Fortunately, I was hyperventilating too much to consider it for very long.
Because I was on my way to the airport.
Not that it helped my nerves. I was practically crying on the plane as we waited to take off. My comfort zone was sitting back at home because there wasn’t room for it in my carry-on. I was not ready for this.
It only got worse when combined with normal airplane fears. I’m not actually afraid of flying, but the thought that the plane could crash and burn still lurks in the back of my mind.
So yeah, sitting on the runway, I was losing my ever loving mind.
But that’s a good thing, right? It meant I was doing something completely different to hopefully change the direction of my life.
My fear meant I was doing it right.
So the plane took off.
And I waved goodbye to my home, family, and friends down below.
After that, all was well.
I honestly expected the worst from the other passengers. A Chatty Cathy, a screaming child, someone kicking the back of my seat, etc.
Instead, it was rather peaceful all the way to London Heathrow.
We landed in London early the next morning. It was cloudy and drizzling. Very British. Not at all like the scorching hot, humid, sunny American south.
I appreciated the challenge of navigating the gigantic airport, UK border control, and everything else alone. I hadn’t had new territory to conquer in several years, so it was nice to stretch my legs a bit.
But after I found my way to the right terminal, I realized I was carrying too much stuff to be able to explore, so I picked a spot and sat in it. For eight hours. Suddenly, the ten hour layover that looked so appealing for giving me plenty of time now just looked boring.
Of course, it didn’t help that it was still 3:00 in the morning for me.
Also, as fascinated as I was by London (from the air) and as much as I still want to explore London and all of England, we didn’t “click.” Charleston and I clicked. It was home immediately, but I didn’t get that from England. It was just England.
Like, “This is cool. Can I go to Scotland now?”
It made me feel better about not choosing any of the English schools I got into, but it also worried me. What if I felt the same way about Scotland?
As the plane descended through the clouds over Scotland, though, all my fears were put to rest. It was love at first sight.
It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Granted, after twenty-four hours on the go, hauling a hundred pounds of luggage, and walking up and down a horrible sidewalk trying to find my flat, I didn’t really have a mind to enjoy it all at once. But hey! I arrived!