Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Cross a Very Large Pond

If we were having coffee, we wouldn’t actually be having coffee.  We’d be having tea because that’s what you do in England and I happen to be in that country now.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how absolutely exhausted I am.  Some people have the magical ability to fall asleep anywhere… I am not one of those people.  I haven’t slept in a day and a half and look like a total zombie.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that my travels went extremely well!  No delayed flights or hiccups.  I flew six hours from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, Iceland followed by another three hours to London.  Although I didn’t actually sleep, I spent most of my flights with my eyes closed listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook.  Which, I suppose, is the next best thing.  Once I got to Heathrow, I successfully passed Boarder Control, picked up my suitcase, exchanged my United States Dollars for Pounds, picked up an Oyster card, and hopped on the Tube, which took me to King’s Cross Station (yes, like in Harry Potter), which is five minutes from my hostel.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my hostel is a bit sketchy and that I forgot my shower shoes and can’t remember where I packed my toothbrush.  BUT it also has free Wifi, which more than makes up for its deficiencies.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how WEIRD it is to fly to the other side of the world and find yourself somewhere familiar.  When I studied abroad here two years ago, I spent a LOT of time exploring the city on my own.  I was a bit shocked how quickly I fell back into the swing of London.  It’s like I never left.

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Trafalgar Square is probably my favorite place in London.  I never get sick of hanging out here.

If we were having coffee, I would gush about how in love I am with this city.  I love (almost) everything about London.  (Overcrowded Tube trains are NOT fun.  Freaking Piccadilly Line.)  I love the architecture.  I love the blend of historical and modern.  I love the big red double-decker busses lumbering everywhere.  I adore Trafalgar Square.  I love that I couldn’t wait an hour before hitting up the National Gallery.  I love the way all the paintings by Monet, Rembrandt, Reubens, and Turner make my heart soar.  I love stumbling upon an entire street of antique book shops.  I love the extensive parks system and how the middle of the city can feel like the countryside.  I love that I’m in the city of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Woolf.

I’m excited to spend the next couple of days here.  Tomorrow, I’m exploring Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House, and going to church at Hillsong.  Monday, I’m visiting museums and seeing a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the National Theatre.  Tuesday, I head to L’Abri!

Okay, okay… enough about my enthusiasm about England.  What do you have to share over coffee?

Lines and Dots (Writing 101, Day 18)

Lines and dots… that’s all a map really is.  Lines and dots printed in tiny colors on sheets of paper that you can never seem to fold the same way twice.  You don’t want to be seen with a map, else the locals pushing past you on the street mutter about annoying tourists under their breaths.  So you try to be as inconspicuous as possible, shoving it quickly in your purse, backpack, briefcase, or pocket to avoid notice.  The lines and dots are helpful, but can sometimes make you stick out like a sore thumb.

It’s what the dots mean and where the lines go that make a map important.

Consider the image below.  At first, it doesn’t mean much.  Can anyone guess where this is?

MyLondon Places (for blog)

If you guessed London, you’re right.  It’s nothing but a series of lines and dots.  In this case, the white and yellow lines signify roads.  The blue windy line is the Thames.  The dots here have numbers, symbolizing how many of my Facebook photos are tagged at different locations.

A map can tell you so much, but there hits a point where its meaning is different for everyone.

When you look at this image, you may see nothing but meaningless lines and dots.

When I take a peek, though, I see memories playing in the back of my mind of my semester abroad.  I picture myself walking through the campus of my host university, squeezing my way into a Tube train at Piccadilly Circus after attending the theater, and nipping in for a few minutes with my favorite paintings at the National Gallery.  The lines are paths my feet have taken.  The dots are places I’ve stopped to explore.  Part of my heart aches when I look at the image, wishing desperately that I could be back in that place.

A map can tell you all about a place, but it can’t tell you what it’s like to be there.  It gives you facts, but not experiences.

Great writers, though, can give meaning to maps with words.  Most fantasy novels have maps at the beginning of them, giving a guide of lines and dots to follow and the story fills in the details.

I don’t claim to be a great writer, so I’m not sure I’m able to give meaning to the map of London that I have shared with you.  However, being an English major has introduced me to lots of great writers who know the city even better than I do.  I have a complicated relationship with Virginia Woolf, but she gives you a pretty good idea what London is like in her novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

“One feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. Such fools we are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can’t be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment in June.”

There.  Do you feel it?  For a moment, you were right there with Clairissa Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, and me, walking the streets of London and basking in the bustle of life.

Do you have any maps with special meaning?  What places are most special to you and why?

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Moments of Transition (Writing 101, Day 13)

As I stood in the crowded hallway clutching my trapper-keeper, the writhing in my belly felt less like butterflies and more like a jar of wriggling worms.  I huddled near the haven of my locker, cringing as the unfamiliar bell clanged, longing for the safety of Mrs. Klinke’s fifth grade class.  But the happy days of recess and snack time were gone.  Unfamiliar faces pressed in from all sides.  They all seemed to know each other.  I took a deep breath.  This is my life now.

———- ———- ———-

“All right, girls, is everyone in their bunks?”  I watched as my ten-year-old charges clambered up under sheets.  An occasional fluffy stuffed animal could be seen, clutched tightly to the campers’ chests.  “Lights are going out in five… four… three… two… “ I flipped the switch to a chorus of giggles.  I groped for my flashlight, finding my way to the counselor’s bunk.  Wiggling into my slippery sleeping bag, I pulled out my journal and pen.  Eyelids heavy, I began to recount the day’s adventures, scribbling memories into the wee hours.  This is my life now.

———- ———- ———-

The air felt stale, like plastic and greasy pizza.  The sun had sunk beyond the prairie horizon hours ago.  You couldn’t see them, but plastic packing boxes littered the floor of my new dorm room.  Clothing and books were piled on every free surface.  The endless stream of faces at the door had finally ceased.  Huddled in my lofted bed, I listened as the stranger who I now lived with snored noisily and tried not to think about the way my parents held hands as I watched them from my fourth floor window.  I blinked back tears.  This is my life now.

———- ———- ———-

Pushing against the surge of people outside the Tube station, I stepped into the unexpected sunlight.  I thought it always rained here?  A tall clock tower gleamed ahead, proudly surveying the stately streets.  A pang of pleasure surged in my chest.  I would recognize this place anywhere.  After a lifetime of dreaming, I had finally crossed the pond.  My face broke into a silly grin as I stepped in with the crowd.  This is my life now.

———- ———- ———-

Hunched slightly from an afternoon of packing apples and harvesting pumpkins, my fingers dart quickly across the laptop keys.  My eyelids feel sluggish, product of too many hours at work and too little sleep, but I continue to write.  In the next room, Dad’s voice orders everyone to be quiet so he can hear the weather report on the news.  Mom calls from the kitchen to make salads for dinner.  I’m about to respond when an unexpected softness brushes my calf and I look down to find my yellow cat, Paco, watching me expectantly.  With a sigh, I hit “save” in my document and reach down to give his head a scratch.  This is my life now.

———- ———- ———-

Today’s assignment was to write a series of vignettes.  I chose to capture different times of transition throughout my life, starting with my first day of middle school and ending with the present day.  It’s been a long time since I did any kind of creative writing.  What do you think?

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This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

To Love London

There are days when I long for London.

I grew up (and attended college) in the country, but man… London has wedged its way into my heart.  When I left, its loss was searing.  I couldn’t go a day without longing to be back.  The longer I’ve been away, though, the more life conceals my love of England’s capital.  It’s like a piece of gold buried in my heart that is buried more every day.  Out of sight, out of mind–as they say.

But then, suddenly, it all comes back.

I remember the feel of my feet on the pavement.  The splatter of rain on my umbrella.  The sound of people of every age and color jostling for a place to stand on the Tube.  The twitters of excitement as the curtain draws at the start of a West End show.  The laughter of kids on field trips in art galleries.  Dogs barking in Hyde Park.  Red double-decker busses lumbering through the city.  Eager shoppers flocking on Oxford Street.  The warm laughter coming from pubs.  The musty scent of books haphazardly stacked floor to ceiling in the stores on Charing Cross Road.  The clang of Big Ben.  The elegant statues of Whitehall.

As the memories flood back, I’m overcome with longing.

Virginia Woolf states it best in Mrs. Dalloway:

“One feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. Such fools we are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can’t be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment in June.”

To love London is to love life.

Will I ever be back?

An afternoon in Austria

There are days that go by and, in three more, you can barely remember what happened.  Then there are days where, even years later, they remain permanently cemented in your brain.

A year ago, I was living in a tiny room at a university in London, England.  Many of my London days blur together, but last October 24 is one of those cemented-in-my-brain days.

It began at five o’clock in the morning.  My bag was mostly packed, but I threw in last minute essentials, took a quick shower, and was out of my flat by six.  Carrying nothing but a tiny duffel and a backpack, I took the 72 bus to Hammersmith, where I caught the Picadilly Line to Heathrow International Airport.  Several hours later, I was on an airplane bound for Germany.  After a couple hours, the rolling fields surrounding Frankfurt came into view as the airplane prepared to land.

That, friends, is when things got tense.  You see, the Frankfurt airport is enormous.  It takes hours to get from one end to the other.  And I had less than an hour to catch my next flight.  Stress was high as I pushed through passport check and security.  “What if I don’t make it?” I pushed the thought to the back of my mind where all the dark thoughts go.  People miss flights all the time, and they also get new ones all the time.  Thankfully, when I was spewed out of security, my gate just-so-happened to be the closest one.  I made it with fifteen minutes to spare!

The next flight was tiny–one of those little airplanes made to hold only twenty or so people.  I remember being crammed in next to a young man in a green athletic jacket.  It didn’t take long to realize I was the only non-German speaker on the flight, so I kept to myself.  Within an hour of takeoff, I could see the Alps coming into view.  Gorgeous mountains soon sprawled as far as my eye could see.  It was incredible.

The Austrian Alps sprawling beneath me.
The Austrian Alps sprawling beneath the airplane.  Photo taken by me.

We came into a large valley and began to descend.  The plane shook and banged about.  For a minute, I thought we were going down.  And then we landed in Innsbruck, Austria.

I exited the plane onto the runway and followed my fellow passengers into the terminal.  A few doors later, I exited the terminal completely.  There, sitting in a chair, was my friend Anna.  She took one look at me and, imedietly, we were hugging.  I looked over her shoulder and there was her mother, smiling kindly.  They were the first familiar faces I had seen in almost two months.

We then went to Anna’s house.  Exhausted after a full morning of travel, I sat on their patio basking in the warm sun.  All I remember is laughing so hard my stomach hurt.  And then, when we were done laughing, Anna’s mother came out of the house with a plate of homemade schnitzel.

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I had a GORGEOUS view of the mountains from Anna’s patio.

Later on, I got to see my other friends, Anna-Laura and Sebastian.  I also met Anna’s sister, Emma.  We wandered around Innsbruck the rest of the afternoon, through narrow streets, grand cathedrals, and along the winding river Inn.  Eventually, we found a bench to park at.  We sat there for what felt like hours, talking and sharing stories.

After two months living with strangers in London, it felt like coming home.

Anniversaries and adventures

Yesterday marked the anniversary of my departure for London, England.

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I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  It feels like yesterday that I stepped on that airplane.

The thing about adventures is that they change people.  It happens in books all the time.  In The Hobbit, Bilbo returned to the Shire a very different person who left.  No matter what he did, or how much time passed, he could not go back to the simple life he had before.

My adventure changed me.  I became aware of how much I can accomplish; confident in my ability to follow through; and incredibly independent.  I learned to see the world beyond my limited American perspective.  I learned to be globally minded, and gained a deep appreciation for people and cultures apart from my own.  I got to see amazing things–the Alps, Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Cliffs of Moher, the Scottish Highlands, to name a few.  I met wonderful friends that are still dear to my heart, people who understand parts of me that no one else can.  I experienced how dark this world is, but also gained appreciation for the light that does exist.

Like Bilbo, I returned home a different person.  And adjusting back into normal life was a challenge.  People who had been dear friends no longer knew how to relate to me, and I to them.  I tried, for a while, to make up for ground that I had lost while away, but eventually gave up.  Connections were lost, and I decided to move on.

Being an English major, my three and a half months abroad changed the way I read.  In my Victorian Literature class, not a day passes when my experiences fail to enhance my experience.  Just today, someone put a map of the city up while discussing a historical detail and my heart gave a tinge because I know those streets.

The other thing about adventure is that once you have a taste, it never lets go.  You’re hooked for life.  Already, I feel the desire to see lands unknown rising up in me.  I long for city streets to explore, train rides through countries that are new, and conversations with people from far away places.

Thank goodness I’ve only got one year of school left.  Because adventure is out there, and I am going to chase it.  Who knows where I’ll be a year from now?

So there you go

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot about what God has done in my life over the past year.  It was an incredibly challenging time–I was pushed and stretched in just about every area of my life.

But not many people know about it.

You see, I tend to keep things pretty close to the chest.  I don’t tend to open up to people until they make an effort.  In a way, you have to work to get the Amelia beneath the surface.  It’s not that I’m not friendly–that’s definitely a word I’d use to describe myself.  I’m friendly, cheery, positive, optimistic, the list could go on.  But when people ask, “How was London?  How was your year at school?”  I tell them that it was fantastic.  It’s not a lie–while abroad, I went and did all the crazy things I’ve dreamed of doing my whole life.  But it was challenging.  It was dark.  It was lonely.  For weeks at a time, I’d feel depressed because of the spiritual weight associated with where I lived.  There were times when all I wanted to do was go home.  I missed my friends, I missed my campus ministry.  My friends at home were too busy to Skype me.  I felt like they didn’t care.  When I finally got home, I hoped things, after a brief transition, would fall back into place and return to normal.  And they didn’t.  Nothing was the same.  My friends moved on without me.  Relationships that had once been deep were suddenly shallow.  People I had leaned on were suddenly unavailable.  Almost all semester, I felt like I had no one I could talk to who both understood where I was at and cared enough to reach out.  I was constantly dissatisfied with almost everything around me.  I was unhappy.  I was so eager to get out that, the second my final papers were submitted, I packed up and bolted home.

The whole year, all I wanted to do was do something practical for God.  I wanted to use my hands, I wanted to get down to business, I wanted to plunge into ministry.  I wanted to pour into others.  God has given me some incredible gifts, and I wanted to use them to encourage my brothers and sisters.  I tried and tried and tried in London to get my foot in the door of some kind of ministry or church.  God shut all the doors in my face.  When I got home, again, I tried and tried to do something for the Kingdom.  I lead a Bible study.  I tried stepping back into prayer ministry.  I sought for people to pour into.  But, again, God had other plans.  He told me to be still.  He told me to wait.

So there I sat, exhausted and frustrated, waiting on God.

Sitting and waiting is hard.  But through it all, God showed me incredible things.  I learned about the depth of His faithfulness.  I was alone in Europe, disconnected from any kind of spiritual body, and every single day, when I opened my Bible, God was there.  It says in Lamentations that God’s faithfulness is new every morning–it’s so true.  No matter how dark it got, He continued to shine His light into my life.  He continued to wrap His arms around me, He continued to speak comfort and whisper beautiful promises into my ears.  He protected me from the darkness and gave me hope.  Over the past year, I have learned that God is enough.  Community is important, yes, but when it comes down to it, God is the ultimate sustainer.  His faithfulness is incredible.

After all this, God lead me back to Camp Shamineau, one of my favorite places in the world.  Today was the last day of staff training.  I’m on Program staff this year, and have had the honor of helping pour into the staff as we have trained them for a summer of ministry.  This morning, we had a chapel service where we worshipped and took communion.  While I partook of the elements, I reflected on all God has done.  I thought about the darkness, about the confusion, the loneliness, the frustration. We sang the song “Cornerstone” and in the line about Jesus being our anchor in times of darkness, I just about lost it.  Because, even though I had just gone through one of the toughest years I’ve ever had spiritually, God was still good.  He still loved me enough to use me.  As we sang, I looked around at all the exceptional people around me–my fellow Program staff, the counselors, SMT’s, and support staff.  I realized that, after such a trying year, God had finally brought me to a place where I could do everything I longed to do.  I could pour into others, pray for them, encourage them, step up in leadership, and help spread the Gospel.  Here I was, doing something practical for the Kingdom at last.   And I thanked God.  I praised Him.  For, even though I fail daily, He is so incredibly good.

So there you go.  For more on my spiritual journey during my time in London, stop by my old travel blog!

Jane

Her first home was a cottage by the sea that is no longer there.

The wafting of her afternoon tea rebuilds the grey stones.  Once again a knobby-kneed kid, her mam fussed fussed fussed  (How did you manage to get seaweed in yer hair?  Don’t drag yer dirt into the gaff.  I told ye not to get yer new boots wet, ye gimp!) when the light sunk beneath the silver horizon and she traipsed up the dirt path clutching treasures of wave-molded pebbles.

What makes home home?

In the narrow halls of the Dublin flat, Mam’s shrills bounded off cardboard walls and she dreamed of the grey stone cottage.  Boring her face into the too-flat pillow, she imagined the constant press of waves pounding.  pounding.  pounding.

Where did home go?

She likes to touch things that are old.  One time, she brought her antique copy of The Victorian Catelogue of Household Goods to lecture, in case her students were interested.  “Just look at all the pointless stuff they would buy just because they could!” Pages of perfume bottles, china, porcelain vases, foot scrapers, candlestick holders, chitzy busts of Prince Albert.  “Why did they need all this crap?!”

Why?  How does this make a home?

Her favourite part of day is right before curtains are drawn—when windows are lit, but not yet covered.  She paces past in the winter mist beneath a black umbrella, her red beret clinging to the coils of her springy hair for dear life, observing the houses of strangers.  Her round blue gaze is meticulous—noticing everything from the IKEA couches to the Turner prints on the walls to the stained doily on the end table.  She never needed to own a telly—not when the houses of London play the best program of all at five each and every night.  Behind those golden squares run the story of life—an endless stream of coming and going, sitting and standing, leaving and—

What makes a home homely?

The stone cottage was gone when she came back for it.

How heartbreaking it is for all those memories—warming wind-beaten hands over the fire. . . porridge over the old stove . . . that one spot that leaked after an evening storm, no matter how many times Da patched the roof . . . the plink! plink!  plink! of droplets filling the rusty kettle . . . to be gone.

~~~

I’m getting this piece workshopped in my writing class tomorrow, so I thought I’d share.  It’s actually a piece of non-fiction.  Who is Jane?  She was my literature professor when I studied in London and all these details are based on real information.

That’s right, I write imagined stories about real people.  Watch out… you could be next.

Exiting the In-Between

Existing in transit is odd.

The past nine months of my life have been spent packing and unpacking, shuffling my belongings into boxes, judging which objects are necessary to bring with in bags.  I have constantly been coming and going, never in one place for too long.  Living out of a suitcase gives you a sense of how little you actually need to live on.

All day I have been sorting through the explosion that has been my room for the past three weeks, trying to identify what to bring back to school.  It’s been a long, arduous task and I have yet to try to fit everything into my car.

The thing about life is that it always seems to be hurtling forward and I’m constantly trying to keep up.  I haven’t been sleeping this past week despite my best efforts which include praying, reading, and listening to Shakespeare soliloquies via YouTube.  (The Shakespeare is actually counter-productive.  Instead of dozing off, I just get really excited.)  My mother insists that I haven’t been getting enough exercise, which is ridiculous because my gym attendance is at a record high.  This morning, though, my dad brought up how much my life has changed over the past month.

One month ago I was living in London.  I lived in alone in a little room in a dingy dorm with an odd assortment of eighteen year old British flatmates.  Weekends were spent traveling the country.  Long weekends were spent exploring greater Europe.  In the past month I moved out of the dingy dorm room, guided my mother around my city, said goodbye to all my new friends, toured Paris, said goodbye to beautiful London, and flew home.  Upon arriving at home, I was thrown into a whirl of jet lag, holiday plans, and large family gatherings.

Over the past month I have gone from living in one of the most vibrant and beautiful cities in the world to a little town in rural Minnesota.  Talk about a culture shift!

Tomorrow I move back to Morris, the tiny little town on the prairie where I attend college.  I have half a day to unpack, settle in, and see friends before the onslaught of junior year hits in full force.  In just forty-eight hours, my life will be completely different from it is right now.  I’ll be in a different bed, living with different people, feeding myself.  I’ll go back to working two jobs, striving for good grades, and immersing myself in campus ministry.

As excited as I am about returning to all my friends, I’m also uneasy.  I know where my place used to be in Morris.  But life pushes on.  People come and go, places shift, and I have changed.  I’m not the same person I was when I left nine months ago.  In turn, Morris isn’t the same place either.

My apprehension comes mainly from not knowing where my place will be now.  It would be foolish to expect things to go back to how they used to be.  Life pushes forward, and so must I.  Adapting to the new-normal is essential.  But what is this new normal?  What role will I have?  I know that I have a place.  What will that be?  I have no idea.

I made a post similar to this one on my travel blog where I discussed the concept of nostalgia.

To conclude, I’ve been living in the in-between for a very long time.  Over the past month, my life has changed dramatically.  In a few days, it will change even more.  Change is a complicated thing.  On one hand, it’s incredibly exciting.  On the other, part of you longs for the familiar.  I’ve learned, though, that the weird in-between stages of life is part of growing up.  But there comes a time to leave the in-between behind.  Nine months are a long time to live out of a suitcase.  I think it’s time to pack up my car and settle back into a semblance of a normal life.

It’s time to exit the in-between and embrace the new.

In Transit

I admit, this is not my first blog.  I’ve been blogging since the tender age of fifteen.  I am now twenty-one.

The thing about being a college student is that your life is never stable.  You’re in this weird in-between place where you’re not a kid anymore, but you’re not fully an adult.  You live in this weird scholarly bubble that includes essay writing, attending lectures, eating pasta constantly for dinner, and increasing stress as finals loom closer.  You can see the outside world, but it’s shrouded by the weird haze of “someday”.

Nothing stays the same.  You go back to your hometown over school breaks and the businesses on main street are different.  At home, your parents suddenly start making plans to convert your bedroom, that safe place and heart of your childhood, into a sewing room, home office, or guest room.  People you have known for years suddenly start getting married and having babies–often not in that order.  The ties that once held you to home begin to stretch and fade, leaving you suspended in “where do I go from here?” land.

Right now, my life is definitely in transit.  I just returned home to the United States from a semester studying abroad in London.  Living in a foreign country for three and a half months is a wonderful, but strange experience.  Although you try your hardest to stay in touch with people back home, life gets in the way.  So you build a new life where you’re at.  But then, just like that, the semester is over and you go back to your old life.  But, like with home, your ties have faded.  You know they’ll soon be reestablished, but until that happens, you’re stuck in this weird place where you’re not quite sure where you fit.

That’s why I’ve started this blog.  After spending three and a half months on my travel blog (which I put lots of effort into and you should all go read), I had planned on returning to my normal space, the place I’ve been writing since I was fifteen.  But I soon realized that wasn’t going to work.  I’m not fifteen anymore.  My original intentions for blogging are different from what they used to be.  I need to start fresh.

The title from this blog comes from one of my favorite quotes:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Metaphorically, Tolkien hits the nail on the head.  Growing up is stepping into the world.  You leave home, go to college, live abroad, get a job, etc.  The world is a big, sometimes scary place, filled with dangers.  If you don’t watch your step, it can easily sweep you away.    You have to know yourself, know your mission, and you have to stick to it.  You have to hold tightly to who you are.  You have to keep your feet.

But, despite its dangers, the world is also an incredibly beautiful place, filled with wonders to explore and learn.  If you keep your feet firmly on the path and your eyes set on the horizon, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

So, feel free to join me on my journey into adulthood.  I can’t promise what this blog will bring, just as I don’t know what lies in store.  But, I suppose, that’s part of the adventure.  Let’s step onto the road and begin…