love letters to england: castles, fish & chips, and some tears

That's what I said to myself when I looked out the window and the sunshine was so bright that I could barely see. That's what I said to myself when I stepped off the plane (and continued to say to myself while I waited 45 minutes in customs). That's what I said to myself when I was in the arms of family I hadn't seen in four years. Home and family—two words I've been defining and redefining and trying to figure out; what space makes something a home, and what people fall under the word family. Home is a place where I am at ease, and family are the people I hold nearest & dearest, whether they are related by blood or just by bond. 

I was up for 52 hours and I didn't really care; I wasn't tired, I was completely running on adrenaline and excitement. I drank coffee at a cafe with my family and wore sunglasses while I walked in the British summertime and everything was just as it was when I left it in 2012; the large window in the front bedroom was still a picture perfect view of tree with bright berries, the greenhouse still housed tomato plants, and the one-eyed cat named Jarvis that lives down the road still visited every morning—coming into the house to sit on the chair for a treat, as if he owned the place. I had dinner outside in the backyard on the patio and was up until the early hours of the morning, curled up in bed with the moon as company.
The days that followed included eating (the local fish and chip shop, because they have perfected the art of balance between the fish and the batter, and because they wrap it all up in newspaper and sometimes I read it while I'm eating), shopping (lots of pale pink clothes and a hogwarts sweater), and talking (about life and school and family back home and how many sugars I take in my tea and 2 teaspoons is far too many). In the weeks leading up to my trip, my family emailed me and asked what I would like to do while I was here. My only request for my entire trip, besides seeing everyone I love in such a short amount of time, was to see a castle—and I got to see two.
We listened to an 80s radio station for two hours and ended up in a town in Wales called Caernarfon, which is home to a magnificent medieval fortress built by the sea. Even though I tripped and probably caused permanent damage to my foot while climbing the steep stairs, I was in a castle! A castle that started getting built in 1283! And I was with a family member who is so distant from me on my family tree that it's hard to explain how we are related, but none of that really matters; I was standing on top of a castle with the kindest man I know. We watched seagulls above us and boats below us go by, admiring the homes that surround the castle that are pained in every shade of pastel. It was up there, in that castle, with one of the very few fatherly examples that I have in my life, that life felt good and peaceful and right.
The night I returned from my journey to Wales was the night before I left for London, and I was up until 4am crying. You might be wondering why I was upset—I was in my favourite place in the entire world! The place I would choose to go to over any other place, even if I've already been before. I was only a few days into my trip, but I was already missing it and everything that comes with it: family, friends, the food, the fact that I can wear a jacket in August, the fact that you can be in a completely different town in less than twenty minutes, the way it feels when I'm drinking my fifth cup of tea and watching BBC with family that I only see every few years, and the way it feels when I'm walking around completely lost but feel at home. I was incredibly overwhelmed with the feelings of missing things happening here and wasting time being anywhere else. So there, in front of the window with the moon again, I wept for awhile. And then the best person I know, my mother, sent me a reminder of why this trip is so important in the first place—to shake off everything that has happened. To remind myself that there are still things to look forward to. To remember that there are little lights at the end of the tunnel.
And then I fell asleep.

(After Wales was London, and we'll speak about that soon.)
love letters to england: before we go
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