Written by Rebecca Carvalho
Last week, sitting in someone’s apartment in New Jersey, a question was posed to the group of people I was with: “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?”. My answer came out of my mouth before I registered the thought: “I want to be back in London.” London, you were one of those eye-opening trips that hit me at the right time. For the first time, I felt like I was making a trip that was meant to be taken at that exact moment in my life. Call it what you want, but something deep in me said that I wasn’t meant to be anywhere else for those few weeks. I’m not one for fate, or for being serendipitous, but it was one of those experiences that make even the most cynical person (like myself), question the forces of the universe.
Two months before I went on this trip, I had a traumatic experience that forced me to reevaluate every aspect of my life, and how I was living it. After it first happened, I felt completely lost in a life that didn’t feel like it was mine anymore. I was outside of myself, looking at what I had been doing the past year, and realized that it wasn’t who I was. I decided I had to figure out who I was all over again, and trying to figure out how to begin was the most difficult part. As much as I don’t want to relate the most negative experience of my life thus far to one of the most positive, it makes the trip that much more important to me. After weeks of feeling confused in my own skin, feeling lost in the places I was most familiar with and lost in my own body, I was walking in your streets, drinking in every corner coffee shop, and browsing teas and books at every possible moment. I know most of my excitement came from the fascination I had with you since I was a child, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with a city I had never been to. I didn’t expect you to heal me. A chunk of my soul refuses to leave your shores because that’s where I figured out who I was. I got lost in you, to find out who I was when I finally got back home.
We were only together for about three weeks. I went on the trip as part of a study abroad program, seeing the opportunity to earn credit, and to go abroad without parental supervision. Though I was twenty-one, past the whole age of having to do what your parents say, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do half the things I did if my mother was within the same zip code. Truthfully, I didn’t have high expectations for you to help me get through a difficult time, but I did have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I wouldn’t want to leave. It was the chance for me to start over. I was able to be the person I wanted to be again for the first time in a year. I showed up lost, and left remembering who I was again. You made me do everything that I was afraid doing. My time with you was made up of moments that started with an exhale, followed by me saying, “Oh what the hell?”. I fell in love for a few hours, I gambled with a perfect stranger, I tried at least ten different kinds of beer, ate however I wanted, and saw everything I had dreamed of seeing. My imagination finally woke up after being beat down by trauma. I could start living my life again, because I finally felt like I was alive again.
Our time together happened over a year ago, yet it took me this long to figure out exactly how important it you were to me. I will never take for granted that feeling of being absolutely in sync with the events going on in my life, because it was a rare moment of growth combined with passion that doesn’t happen often. But when it does, the ride to figuring out who you are is an intense pleasure, combined with relief and suspense. The relief comes in that you’ve figured it out for now; the suspense comes in when you realize that you’ll never have it all figured out. I’m not sitting here saying that this was the most revolutionary thing that’s ever happened to me, or that London is this incredible save-your-soul city, but when things synced up in my life, it was something worth reflecting on. I miss roaming those streets every day, but when I go back, I know it won’t be the same, because I’m not the same either. I grew up, I changed, and it’s been over a year. I know you won’t be the same either. Still, part of who I am remains with you, because it made me realize who I was again. Very rarely can anyone or anything touch your soul in an intimate way, and I’m forever grateful for that.
Rebecca is a recent grad from Iona College in New York who decided to become a writer when her hopes of being a Spice Girl were dashed at a young age. Her love for music thrives, as well as her love for travel, fantasy fiction, and art. Brutal honesty, dark humor, and black coffee are the ways to her heart. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram @RebeccaEstherrr