I stood behind the crowd, frantically searching the platform announcement board at the Victoria station. My make-up was smeared from a combination of the rain’s humidity and the sweat box us Brit’s like to call the Underground. Today it was also the place where a man disregarded my space and elbowed me in my shoulder with no apology given. My clothes and feet were soaked. My umbrella was inside out from clearly losing a fight to the wind. And here I was, with hundreds of other people stranded because TFL’s Southern train conductors had decided to strike, leaving us with train cancellations every 5 minutes.
This would be my fifth or sixth day commuting and my second trip to a random train station. After hearing the train I had ran in the rain for had been suddenly cancelled, I crumbled. I sunk low, crouched over my very beat up Zara workbag, and sobbed loudly into its folds.
I knew this would happen, but I was proud that I fought it off for as long as I did.
It was week two into my five-week trip to the UK, and what I had planned to be an escape from my reality, turned into my reality poking fun at the aforementioned plan.
I wasn’t relaxing, I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I wasn’t knocking things off of my “Eat Pray Love” bucket list. Instead, I was fighting an anxiety attack every morning commuting an hour into North London. I was doing so just to work in an office where no one would speak to me. Or I was at the gym beating myself up for not being able to keep up with my aunt, who the staff and trainers have affectionately named, “The Body.” Or I was picking on myself for not being able to stop stuffing my face. Or I was sleeping, because the world can’t bully you if you’re not conscious. And if I wasn’t doing any of the above, I was sulking and secretly counting down to get back to my norm across the Atlantic Ocean.
Pity party for one? Check. And trust, when I finally made it home that evening, I let my journal have it.
The following day, I wrote the status: “It won’t be perfect, and it won’t be easy, but it can always be meaningful.” Not sure what compelled me to write this status because that same day I continued my sulking, but after my five weeks were up, I understood it. I got it.
We can plan our lives as much as we want, but what will be, will be.
I didn’t travel Europe as I wanted to, but thanks to TFL striking, I took a different route home almost every single day, exposing me to different train lines and areas of London I probably would never venture to on my own. I didn’t get lost in the Grecian culture with my best friend like I had hoped, but while taking her to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, we got lost in the culture and the love of UK’s Pride Parade. And no, I didn’t have a come to Jesus moment by the end of the trip while packing up memories and trinkets from other countries, but I did reflect on all the family stories I had come to know while being there, and I realize now, more than ever, that I come from a family of incredibly, strong women. Each and every one them.
Will I stop road-mapping, making lists, and creating hardcore deadlines for myself? Probably not, I’m a control freak. But I’ll keep in mind how London happened. It’ll remind me something better just might top my plans.