Lately, I've been taking time each day to count my blessings. Not only do I have an amazing support network of family and friends, but I have been blessed with this opportunity to live and study so far from home – especially during a global pandemic. Each day in London is beautiful in a new way – even when I don't leave my room for more than a half hour walk. Being here and spending so much time reading and writing truly makes me feel happy.
Some days I'm so exhausted by my adventures I don't even have time to think about my minor bouts of homesickness. On Saturday, I made the long trek toward London city central. According to my GPS, it should have been about a two hour walk. It took me two and a half hours to get to Sloane Square – most of the way, but not all, to my self-appointed destination of Buckingham Palace. The Putney and Chelsea city streets were lined with shops and restaurant signs proclaiming, “still open for take-out”. People swarmed this way and that, going about their usual business or pausing to chat with acquaintances. Children played soccer (“football”, here) on the Greens and Commons that I passed (yes, there were several). Some people still wear masks while walking outdoors, but it seems that number decreases in urban areas. As I neared Sloane Square, the trees planted in the sidewalks and the store awnings or windows were decorated with white and yellow (silver and gold?) twinkle lights. There were even banners of them hung across the broad avenue of King's Road. Since I set out on this journey around 2pm, it was getting dark by the time I reached Sloane Square. So I found the nearest Tube station – just around the corner – and took my first solo Tube ride back to the stop closest to campus. From there, according to previous GPS research, it should have been a quick 15-30 minute jaunt back to campus. Instead, my entire body's worth of muscles ached, so my trudge took about an hour. To be fair, I also paused frequently to re-orient myself along the way.
Next time, I'll be leaving earlier in the day, and taking the Tube there so I still have the energy to walk around downtown before I head back!
As the end of the semester approaches, the stack of library books on my nightstand grows increasingly taller. Mostly, they're for research into character traits and practical details for my writing projects. Even though I still have a month and a half to finish these major projects, I'm beginning to feel anxious that I don't have enough done. That doesn't mean I'm not still loving this Master's program. Actually, even the class I like the least and struggle with the most makes me a lot happier than some of my courses at UNH. UNH was a wonderful experience, too, and I'm still incredibly proud of my two Bachelor's degrees. It's not that this university is per se better overall than UNH, but more that this is the course I should have been studying all along. I've been saying for a long time that writing is my life's passion, but taking these classes has made me feel how true that statement is. I'm starting to feel like the pieces of my life are falling into place – like I'm finally on the right track. So yes, I'm a little stressed, but it's not just panic, partly it's an energizing enthusiasm for the challenges I'm facing and the ones I'll face in the future. An excitement about how my writing is improving and what that could mean for my career as a writer. Taking this opportunity has been absolutely worth everything it has cost to get here. Plus some. (In case you were worried).