I’m home. In Minnesota, that is. I could say this about several places, either my parents’ home in Seattle, or Luther College, or my British home in West Sussex. But for now, it’s in the city where I live and work most of the time. I’ve been back for six days, still a bit weary from the trip and missing Europe very much, but on the grind with Bead Me and Holy Week music at church.
A couple weeks ago, Lauren and I were getting ready to go work at the Big Bead Show in Surrey, UK. It went quite well, I would say, and I was happy to meet some awesome British beaders and promote Bead Me. We worked at the Bead Magazine stand (Bead Me’s sister publication in the UK) and helped answer questions for attendees (mostly giving out the Wi-Fi password). I had some difficulty understanding them sometimes, although that may be due to the climate control machine being so loud. The only incident that occurred was on the day before, when we were setting up – my boss’s wife (who runs the show) had ordered a company to bring tables for us to use during the show. When we arrived, we soon learned that the tables had been put downstairs, in the wrong hall. So, the four of us who’d come to set up, plus some of the event center staff, had to walk the tables all upstairs. Made me thankful for my personal trainer! Fortunately, we came home to a delicious dinner and cherry port for dessert (you should try it, it’s delectable). The ordeal wore us all out, but everything else went fine. It was a true team effort. It still amazes me how seamlessly we at Ashdown work together, even from across the pond. Granted, we do have to chase down information sometimes, which is a struggle, but now that I’ve gotten to know the team over there, my patience and understanding has grown. I miss being able to communicate with them as we could over there – it made such a difference. Fortunately, we should be going back before too long.
The day after the bead show, we took a rest and walked the dogs in South Downs National Park, which is just a couple minutes from David and Elizabeth’s home, then spent the afternoon in Chichester, one of the larger towns in West Sussex. We saw the Chichester Cathedral and ate at their favorite French restaurant (so much food, but delicious). I posted some photos from there on my Instagram page. Then in the morning, we took off for our big city adventures – Lauren to London, and I to Berlin.
I flew from London Gatwick Airport to Berlin Schönefeld Airport, then took the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to my hotel. From there, I was alone. And I mean really alone. I thought I was alone in Rochester, but in this big city where I only kinda-sorta spoke the language… that’s what alone truly is. I’d known this would be true when I planned the trip, but I knew I needed to do it. Now that I have, I’m all the more grateful I did, because I believe I can accomplish anything. I walked around the city and took public transport on my own with no messes, blending into Berlin just fine. Since people spoke to me in German when I entered places, I’m guessing I didn’t have the “American” label across my forehead, which is good. The only time I really used German was in a bar, asking for a glass of red wine. (Ha!) On the first night I went to the Brandenburg Gate, walking there from my hotel through the Tiergarten, and found the political center of Germany there. The next day I went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral, and the city library. The cathedral is a Lutheran church, the largest one of those I’ve ever been in. In the evening, I went to a contemporary string quartet concert in the Neukölln district, which was was thought-provoking in the sense that it made me think about what music is for us today, and why it’s composed the way it is. I can’t say I came up with any great insights, though.
The third day, I went to a coffee shop that I’d read about in a New York Times article on how to spend 36 hours in Berlin, part of a series the paper runs about international travel. It was a random quick adventure before I checked out and flew back to Gatwick, spending the night in London before meeting up with Lauren again and flying back from Heathrow. We both felt the energy burden of travel after that. We returned to the office the next day loopy from jet lag. I’m still exhausted, although I might also be feeling the decrease in caffeine I’ve enforced upon myself since returning. I drank so much coffee throughout the trip that I feel like I should detox from it so I don’t develop an addiction. But I also haven’t had too many moments to rest since I got home, and I won’t for awhile.
The night after we got home, Lauren and I both attended a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Luther. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with it! I loved it so much that I wrote a letter to the editor of Chips. Being loopy with jet lag made it interesting to see everyone, which is exciting in itself. I talked to pretty much everyone I wanted to afterwards, and I stayed overnight with my friend Brett. From there, it’s been a lot of work, picking up where we left off before we traveled, and playing cello at church for Holy Week services and Easter. I’ve fallen in love with this song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJWHZnZ9E6k) that I’m playing with the worship band on Saturday for the Great Vigil of Easter. The great thing about Gloria Dei is that it holds a party after the Easter Vigil service to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection, making it worth all the doom and gloom. Then we come to worship on Sunday morning with brass fanfare! Should be an excellent time. Then I get Monday off from work (the UK rests on Easter Monday), but I’ll keep busy that day, looking at new apartments! Feeling inspired by my solo travels, I’ve decided to move, knowing that I’m solidly part of this community now. I’m ready to get a place that’s truly my own.
I’m still every bit as happy as I said I was in my last blog post, and I hope to keep sharing that joy and positivity with others. Every day I grow more confident and independent. And when I fully immerse myself again in the social media world on Easter, I won’t let that bring me down as I have in the past. Deactivating my Facebook was a good idea – combined with travelling overseas, it was a true separation from the things that may have been dragging on me. But I’m free of them now and am ready to return. So, here’s to spring, new life, and continued positivity, and may you all find many places you can call home.