I wish I could sit down for a week and think about everything I experienced in London. I wish I could write about it and learn from it. But when my plane landed, I jumped right back into doing stuff. It’s marching band stuff, so it’s my choice and I enjoy it, but marching band stuff is nonstop all day every day from barely after dawn to just before midnight, and my brain exhausts itself before each day is halfway through. All I can think about is water, what drill is up next, and how long it’s been since the last cloud rolled by. Sometimes, when I get the chance to close my eyes to the white light of day, I can see the yellow eye of Big Ben peering at me across the River Thames. The last kiss of the Temptress Tourism lingers on my lips.
I can still smell the streets of London—nothing bad, just the indescribable scent that characterizes the city. It sneaks up on me and reminds me of where I’ve been before leaving me grasping for more. Sometimes I wake up convinced that I’m in Palace Court, that I’ll leave for class in an hour, jammed onto the tube with thousands of other people heading to work, and that, if I’m hungry enough to make an unwise decision (given a college budget), I might stop somewhere for some tasty English food after class. American accents sound out of place now, not because they’re unfamiliar after weeks in London, but because I miss hearing the English accent.
In marching band, I am around the same people every day, just as in London, I was always around the other students in the program, and I am unsettled by how one group of people you spend so much time with can so suddenly be replaced by another. It’s easy to fall out of touch after there’s no program to keep you together, but I was fortunate enough to forge a few friendships. In my new friends, I will always have a reminder of London. In my memories of London, I will always have a reminder of home.
The world is all around us, and London taught me that I don’t have to travel to experience the world. I think about all the people living in London who don’t care that they’re living in London. When I boarded my plane from Philly to London, there was a group of English people who vacationed in Philadelphia. There are people who come from all over the world to see America, and yet I, like the people who don’t care that they live in London, never cared that I live in America. Everything here is so familiar that I forget to look around me and experience my homeland. What life changing experiences can I have in America? In Pennsylvania? On my own street? I miss London, but the experience of living in a foreign city for six weeks, trying to make as much out of my time as was comfortable, and staring in awe at everything I passed, made me wonder what awe-worthy things are hidden just beneath my nose in America.