Today I mistakenly saw a sight that made me smile more than I have in a while. It wasn’t really what I thought it was. I mean I wasn’t having visions or anything, but for some reason my brain was in the right setting to incorrectly translate something I saw on my way to work. Today the skies are grey, but it is not too cold. It is a
temperature to wear a sweatshirt and jeans (maybe even a skirt with boots). I had sweat compiling at the seam of my hat by my fidora, because I was wearing too many layers in fact. No bright sunlight, but not uncomfortable. The wind was blowing just right for a December. I often have thoughts about England in the Chicago pre-winter conditions, but at this particular moment I was not consciously thinking about England.
I walked to the stoplight, but realized the light had just turned for the other direction, so I stopped. I checked my iphone for the time then looked down the street to see if there was a pause in the cars so I could skip across. That’s when my mind fooled me. I had a sudden jolt in my stomach. A pulse of butterflies filled me. It was a moment where I actually had to say to myself, “No Shannon, you are in Chicago.”
There, in the sky, was a steeple with a crown-like silhouette. It was
sight I had stared at everyday, 9 years ago, on my way to University. I had actually mistaken this Edgewater church for the Canterbury Cathedral. It must have been the right setting at the right time. I was on my way to work, like would have been on my way to school at this time of day years ago, the clouds were overcast, but it was warm and comfortable outside, so my mind triggered a thought that was completely fabricated. I think my jaw even dropped.
My stomach had jumped, but not in a way of shock or surprise. I had jumped in a surge of happiness and excitement. I stared at the Edgewater church for a while even after I realized the truth. I wanted it to be the Canterbury Cathedral so much. I have been having a rough time at home and in my everyday life lately, it was so wonderful to have this moment of pure happiness. Thoughts of Canterbury always make me smile. It was the only “real” time I was living overseas and made me feel special to called the sweet town Home.
To travel alone is a battle on it’s own. A fun battle, but a battle all the same. I love that I am able to meet whomever I want and hang out with them whenever. I love that I can sleep when I want, eat when I want, and go wherever I wish to go. It is, however, lonely sometimes.
While in a museum or experiencing something spontaneous and fun I often wish to lean over and talk about it with someone else. A friend, a companion, a relative, whoever. I want to talk about what I am seeing and what I am experiencing. I think it is beneficial to travel through both journey’s.
It was the end of my Round the World trip. The thought of me leaving hung heavy within me. Everything I went to visit on my last day in my beloved London was tainted by the thought of leaving. Shakespeare Globe lost it’s magic, because I knew I would not be around long enough to attend a performance. The Tate museum was beautiful, but once it was closing I knew I would be forced out and not allowed back in until my next visit. I longed to get lost in my favorite city, but I knew living on the streets would not be the most logical decision for myself. I stayed out wandering around all the cobble-stoned streets that I
could, until the sun went down. I stumbled upon St. Paul and literally ran into the steps. The air was growing colder and people were leaving work. I had decided that this was the perfect opportunity to people watch and embrace being in London at that moment. There was a girl with a white hat sitting across the courtyard seeming to do the same thing. Older men with suitcases and hats briskly glided across the courtyard, children skipped around in their uniforms from school, and a crowd of young twenty something’s were out and ready to protest Libya’s war.
I took a deep breath. I could feel tears creeping up. I had to get a hold
of myself! There is nothing quite like visiting another city and just being present in that specific moment. Thinking about where you are, what you are looking at, and that you may not ever come back to this place again. It removes me from routine thinking and what strengthens my soul.
Throughout my busy day today, I close my eyes at my desk. I am lifted through time back to a wonderful town in England.
I am wearing my black pea coat and I can feel the cold air swirling around my ears. There is a guitar playing in the distance. University
students are laughing as they scurry past me. It is late in the day and I have finished everything I have needed to do. I am tired but content.
I open my eyes and watch the magnificent sky turning. A brilliant pink is invading every corner of it. I decide to walk down the street and try to become a little lost before I head to the pub to meet up with my friends. All the shops are closing up and everyone is scampering home or to a nightly pub hangout. I am still trying to get used to walking down narrow cobble-stoned streets. Everywhere in Chicago is so wide and flat. I am not the most coordinated person in the world, so there are many times in my day I am praying no one is watching me struggle down the street.
Everyone seems to be happy in Canterbury. Perhaps it is just the way that I see it, but it is rare to hear screaming or sirens. I make my way to the surreal Cathedral and imagine what it might be like to be there during Chaucer’s time. He never made it, and I feel sorry for him. He was right that Canterbury is a definite place to see. The Cathedral looks like something out of a movie. I can smell coffee as I sit there and stare at it.
I smile staring up at the huge gates to the Cathedral and all the detail put into them. I am chilled through my wool coat, but I don’t care. I want to stay a but longer. There are kids playing in the courtyard in front of me. For a second I envy them, and that they were able to grow up here. But then I think perhaps I wouldn’t appreciate the same. I hope to bring my children here someday.
There’s not a day that went by while in Canterbury where I did not pinch myself, reminding me that it was all real.