Landing Preparations

Landing Preparations

December 18, 2010

So what is it that happened in those final two weeks of my time in London? They flew by so quickly that I'm not so sure of what happened when, all the days are blurred together. Somehow without realizing it, I was swept into wrapping up my London Life, that it wasn't until the very end that I could see all the pieces of my time in Britain fit together. All the items on my check-list were marked off, all the holes were filled in.

Ending classes at CAPA meant a lot of discussion. After spending countless numbers of hours together, in-class talks flowed so freely as compared to the stiff remarks of the semester's start. I could feel my classmates repeating phrases in their heads before saying them aloud. (It certainly made for a striking contrast to our going away party - where stories about living together for three months all came pouring out over finger food and for some, pints of beer.) Joy and Roland had clearly gone from teachers to facilitators of our reflections about London. Even the quietest of students found some semblance of a voice at some point. For 12 weeks they shared with us history, news, art, and culture. For me, they helped give shape to a city I once (quite accurately) described as a stain on the map of Britain. Spreading, shapeless, deep and impossible to bleach out of your life. But I found perspective with their help, getting me out of what I've come to think London might be, and turning me in a different direction, to see the actual way it might be. Their direction helped me get out of a..... total head-f*&^, if you will.  Which is why their attendance at the TWC farewell night was so meaningful. It gave us a chance to sit down together outside of the classroom and see the bond that's been formed through all those lectures, discussions, and assignments.  All the CAPA staff helped to secure that warm feeling we had thought was there, knowing that CAPA was our home base. The work they put into reaching out to all of us was not in vain, we all took away more from this trip through their help.

My time at the Labour Group came to a close that last week as well. What I had come to think was the impossible project turned out to be some kind of worthwhile effort. The actual nature of my work is unpublishable (Secret LG business). But I can say the research was on recent legislation and impending modifications, Labour's position, and it came with virtually no applicable publications on the matter in statistics, articles, or political commentary. So what I long worried would be a totally crap report, turned into something interesting, insightful, and dare I say potentially useful! Persistence, skill, and perhaps a touch of stubbornness got me a five page report and a smile on Morgan's face (it was like the eclairs all over again!). Incredibly enough in the three months I spent there, I held a real job in the British labor force. I worked on material that will influence the decisions and direction of the place that I spent so much time in. I don't believe that they are quite ready to rename it the Anna Daily Kicks Ass for Local Government Association (But you can join our campaign by going to!), but I am proud to say I contributed and had something real to carry out of there with me. It all came to an end with surprise gifts from the office. To thank me for my work, they sent me home with books on British history (knowing I was a fan), Labour coffee mugs, and a proper after-work drink. In a place where I wasn't sure I would ever fit in, I finally had the experience of being properly teased and joked with over a drink. My favorite memory of work, no doubt.

Musical Madness also commenced. In my time in London I went to eight concerts, 2 shows, and 1 BBC recording, more than half of them occurring in November alone. I made it to LED, Maximo Park, Mr Scruff, Dan le sac v. Scroobius Pip, Flying Lotus, MIA, The Cinematic Orchestra, and Underworld. It took me to excellent venues like Koko, Royal Albert Hall, The Brixton Academy, Victoria Park and one show in the city of Manchester. There are plenty of sites to see and pieces of culture to experience, but concerts had to be one of the best ways to experience the city. In a place known for culture, art and history, you find yourself surrounded with options but why not go contemporary a few times? As a major music lover, I have zero regrets for occasionally cutting into my fish and chips budget for a show. And with the help of my travel and music companion Ryne (who I thank for this insight, dedication, and superior sense of direction), these nights were better than they ever could have been alone; some of them wouldn't even have been possible. They were all excellent in a different way, mostly because they were all groups that were common to London but nearly impossible to see in Tampa. Old favorites, completely new acts - I took something great from all of them. I spent my first weekend in England planning for an excellent concert, and that's how I went out. Underworld was the last show of the trip. I danced my way through my last Saturday night in the UK in a really spectacular show, literally hours before I got on a plane back to America. Sure it was risky, but the perfect way to go.

All that was left after this was a montage of cleaning, packing, scrambling to eat my last groceries in a 5 a.m. breakfast and hopping on to the shuttle. I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry. I'm not usually very emotional, but everything coming to a close was too hard for even me to handle. I gave a weepy goodbye to my TWC family and collapsed into my seat on the plane back to the US. I sat alone on the flight to Philadelphia and took the time to let exhaustion wash over me. I'd like to say I sat back and reflected on my trip with a joyful tear, but the truth is it was all too much to handle at once. I was in state much closer to panic, wondering how I would live without the 10 people I had depended on for so long. There would be no more public transportation, museums, concerts, or pubs just around the corner. Going home seemed like fending for myself in a totally different world. What was I going to do? So I just slept. To some people, that walk out of the terminal when I arrived in Tampa will seem sad. And they are right, it was sad. But more than that, it was important for me. My mourning of London and the family just shows that they really did become a family for me and I made a home for myself. I have often heard comments from my blog readers about the Battle of Midway entry I wrote previously. There was a lot of humor in this trip but I guess the hardships left greater impressions. So hopefully those people will find solace in this entry. I made a home for myself in London, created a space in which I could exist, learn, and then be happy. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have felt like I was losing anything.

I slowly made my way to the lobby of TPA and saw my parents, smiling and waiting. Tears in Mom's eyes told just how long I had been gone and how much I knew I had changed. But they were there with love and acceptance. I knew after London, I could change the spaces in this life too.

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