Good afternoon! Today’s prompt is A Picture Says 1,000 Words. I honestly had trouble what direction to go in for this one… There were so many options! But, I think I have chosen one that I can talk about without getting to sappy or sobering like my last post!
The picture on the left was taken on July 6, 2011. That July I went on my first trip abroad to study in London. This was a huuuge deal to me at the time (and now). Traveling to England had always been something I wanted to do. Number one all my to-go-to list. I have always been a huge anglophile and wanted nothing more than to finally travel to a place with an overwhelming amount of history (relative to where I come from in Alabama, at least). As a kid, I remember going to see some of the early Harry Potter films with my mother and playfully going back and forth in a British accent afterwards. My bedroom in high school (and now, I’m not going to lie to you), is decorated with a number of British themed pictures and other wall decorations. I have always dreamt of the moment when Big Ben and Parliament would catch my eye and this picture captures the moment it finally did.
I had arrived in England the day before. After a far-too-long airplane trip and being forced to stay away for the following 12 hours until it was a suitable time to sleep (had to correct my sleep schedule, you know), my fellow classmates and I were finally ready and eager to go out and see the city we had landed in. Our professors allowed us to do so by giving us our first assignment that day— a scavenger hunt! They handed out a list of clues to various major monuments in London and our mission was to take these historical and literary cues, use the Underground Tube and buses to navigate to said monuments, take a picture of them, and hurry to the final destination where our professors were waiting for us at the end of the day. We were all placed into groups of about three people and, let me tell you, it was exhilarating (if not confusing) to be thrown into London and have to figure out how to get around on our own.
After hours of running around, we finally reached a clue that lead us to Westminster. As you would expect of London, it was raining off and on that day, but the rain did not dampen our spirits. We navigated our way to the correct stop on the Tube, but when we got off the train, we saw more exits at that station than at any other so far! We had no idea which would to choose! After looking around at maps, we finally chose one that would lead us to Parliament. Immediately, I was overwhelmed with excitement and expected to begin up the steps and see Big Ben standing there in all of his glory in front of me. I had pulled out my camera in anticipation of this moment. … However, instead, I just saw road and… more road! After reaching the top of the stairs I began to wonder if I had chosen the wrong exit until I finally turned over my shoulder and there it was. Big Ben. Parliament. Diagonally across the intersection from where I stood. The rain had finally let up during our short train ride over, and the sun brilliantly shined off the tower’s golden accents in a way my camera could not possibly capture. A rush of emotion overtook me in that moment. My eyes burned with the dull sting of tears as I raised my shaking hand and tried to take the best picture I could.
Readers, your laughter to my response in this situation is justified. I realize that it sounds very strange to be so overcome with emotion by a building; however, I must say that, to me, it was a very profound spiritual experience. I realized in that moment that what I was seeing was something that I would never forget and that everything I had ever done led me to that exact moment. Past self after past self had dreamt of that moment… and then that moment was happening. Happening so fast I could only do what I could to take a simple, low-res picture of it before it was gone.
The rest of my experiences in the city of London were all similar in that I knew, for perhaps the first time in my life, I was exactly where I wanted to be. I knew for a fact that I was in a place I had always wanted to visit and I could not have been happier, despite missing my friends and family (especially my dog, oh man). Even today, I dream of going back and living that all over again. One month was far too short for such a life-changing trip, but after going I feel like my world got a bit smaller. In just a few hours (and a few thousand $$$, aha…ahahaha…), I can be there. In a nation that was home of one of the largest empires in the world. Hundreds and hundreds of years of history… and I had and will hopefully have again the privilege of being there and seeing what all of that history has produced.
That one picture, while not even the best quality, both leaves me speechless and is worthy of 1000 words. I feel like I have grown as an individual since the moment I captured that picture. I have since traveled to Paris, graduated from college, and moved to a different state, but it was that trip and that brave step to go abroad on my own that has left me with the courage to continue working my way towards a life in which I get to make decisions that will give me the ability to continue to travel to places I only dreamed of seeing in person, and in the process make me just as overcome with total joy and happiness as I was in that exact moment.
Have any of you also felt moved by something you didn’t think would move you?