Days 14–17

Wifi is unreliable and time is not always available in generous helpings when traveling. Although I will continue to document things everyday, I will end up having to post them in sets like this one. Bear with me on the longer posts!

Also, I will no longer be posting my daily photo challenge here on this blog. But if you’re interested, you can still keep up with it over on my Instagram photography portfolio page here: instagram.com/elianagrace.photo

Day 14: Forgiveness

The thing about close friendships is they matter so much you’re willing to fight for them even when things are awkward and miscommunication abounds.

We sit around the apartment talking long past midnight.

***

Day 15: Epiphany

It’s easy to fill in the blanks. When we’re so desperate for something we make it up in our heads and convince ourselves that our imaginary world is reality, which makes it all the more painful when we realize the difference. But there’s a difference between moving on from something merely constructed in your head and something someone manipulated you into believing.

Psalm 107 contains a refrain of God’s people crying to him in their trouble. He hears them. He delivers them.

He has always been faithful and He is faithful now.

Even when we fall.

***

Day 16: Traveling

I wake up with five hours of sleep and a lot of anxiety. But there’s much to be done in the six hours before the bus comes to take us to the airport, so I throw myself into packing and cleaning, desperate for a distraction. Lunch comes around and in that brief lull I realize my entire body is shaking. I can’t eat anymore than a few bites of spaghetti.

The bus that’s supposed to take us to the airport is 45 minutes late.

Airport security is more or less a breeze, and before long we’re gathered outside our gate, with various groups making trips to Starbucks, McDonald’s, and the bathroom, the three most necessary aspects of waiting for a flight. When the crew begin the boarding process, I feel lightheaded and sit down.

I sleep maybe forty minutes on the plane. I only watch one movie (“Hidden Figures” is amazing and you should all watch it if you haven’t already). The rest of the time I spend shuddering in and out of dozing fits while thoughts spastically flit through my mind, reminding me of all the things I need to do but can’t do anything about at this particular moment, suspended and hurling through the sky thousands of miles above the ground.

Every time I think about a particular situation, I find my heart saying, “I surrender.” It doesn’t begin conscious or intentional choice on my part, but it soon becomes a habit.

***

Day 17: Canterbury

As soon as we land in Heathrow my eyes brim over with tears. I can hardly contain the overwhelming awareness that for the first time in my life I am finally here.

Nothing feels real. At the same time, everything feels right. It’s crazy to think I’ve never been here before but it all feels familiar. It’s like I’ve finally come home.

Apparently, customs officials are very suspicious of students claiming to be here for a study abroad program. When I’m finally waved through, I’m a flustered mess.

SIM cards are confusing.

It’s a two-hour coach ride to Canterbury and I accidentally fall asleep for an hour despite my best efforts to stay awake and beat jet lag.

After dropping off our stuff at the youth hostel, we grab a quick bite to eat and wander around the city for three hours. It’s positively dreamy, but does get pretty stressful having to travel in a large group and navigate the narrow roads. It rains here and there, but we’re blessed with cool, sunny weather for the majority of our walk.

By the time dinner rolls around, most of us are completely wiped out and ready for bed. We’ve reached the point of total exhaustion and everything is funny, which leaves us in breathless, crying fits of laughter back in our rooms. It’s a nice change of pace from the panicked moments that inevitably come with traveling.

As I write this, it’s around 9pm and everyone else in my room is trying to sleep. There are new arrivals to the hostel, though, and they’re thumping around like nobody’s business upstairs. Our room is right next to one of the hostel entrances/exits, which makes for an interesting time.

Canterbury is gorgeous. It’s medieval. We see Augustine’s Abbey which, the professors tell us, is where Christianity got its start in England.

The green here is softer than the green in the States. It’s more welcoming.

It still doesn’t feel real. When will it feel real?

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