Thursday, August 29, 2013

ready or not

Sometimes I read a line on a page or hear a lyric in a song and think to myself, “This must have been written especially for me.”  Don’t you?  That’s the beauty of words.  They connect us, across time and space and culture, in our thinking and feeling and being.  They embolden us and remind us we are not alone.  Someone else understands.  As I peer into the great unknown that is my fall semester, the words of Lemony Snicket do just that.  Mr. Snicket (and I hope I’m not the only one subconsciously using a British accent to honor his name) urges, “If we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” 

In less than three days, I will be traveling 4,024 miles to a brand new place.  A place I’ve only visited in my wildest dreams and Pinterest travel boards.  And I won’t just be popping in for a quick hello and a bite to eat.  I’ll be calling it my home for three and a half months. 


I’ll be hopping on the tube.  I’ll be drinking tea and eating crumpets (after I determine what exactly is a “crumpet”).  I’ll be breathing the same air as a newborn heir to the throne.  And the Queen’s air, for that matter.  (All hail the Queen.)  I’ll be strolling cobblestone streets in my Hunter rain boots, my glittering eyes feasting on London street-style.  I’ll be passing postcard favorites like Big Ben on the reg.  I’ll be exchanging conversations with folks who sound like they grew up with Mary Poppins as a nanny.  I’ll finally get to really travel and experience fascinating new cultures.  I’ll be taking on a legendary city with one of my best friends in the whole world.  To say I’m excited is an understatement.

But I’m not ready. 

At least I don’t feel ready.  I can’t decide if I should bring my new Steve Madden flats or just stick with the five or so pairs of shoes already wedged in my suitcase.  (And by “in my suitcase” I am obviously referring to the hypothetical suitcase that is sitting hypothetically at the foot of my bed, filled with hypothetical traveling necessities.  The early bird gets the worm?  No, no.  “Fashionably late” has yet to fail me, my friends.)  I still don’t quite know what a “dual converter” and/or “adapter” is or what kind to purchase.  I have heard, however, if not used correctly this mysterious object has the potential to detonate my precious hairdryer and turn my fellow dorm-mates against me.  Perhaps I should move this item up a tad higher on my to-do list.  And, as I prepare to live in a city with one of the highest costs of living, my bank account and I are not on speaking terms.  We’re avoiding eye contact.  I’d rather not talk about it.

More importantly, how does one even begin to mentally prepare for this kind of thing?  Everyone keeps asking me, “So are you ready for your big adventure?”  To which I would like to reply, “Define the word ‘ready’…?”  Instead, I beam back saying how excited I am, with an enthusiasm level that is one part Kristin Wiig at a surprise party to two parts glowing princess singing to the forest animals, all in an effort to refrain from dumping the contents of my frazzled mind on this innocent individual.  It’s an art, really.  My mind is swimming with looming unknowns such as, what will I eat if I don’t particularly enjoy fish and chips?  How will I handle being away from home and my family for so long?  Will all my friends at home forget I exist?  Will my roommates be normal?  What if I forget to pack something that is crucial to my survival overseas?  And how on earth will I afford this on the salary of a girl who worked at her own personal mecca of clothing stores all summer??

Though I was never a scout, I thrive on the mantra, “Always be prepared.”  I once whipped a Band-Aid out of my Baby Bop backpack at a park when my parents didn’t have one.  I was four.  (Don’t look at me like I’m the only weirdo here.)  Being prepared and informed helps me feel like things are under control.  As do lists.  Lists make me feel like I’m in control and that I have a handle on my life, and therefore I love them.  And when I am organized and prepared I feel like I can almost predict how things will pan out.

But let’s be real.  That is far from true.  I am not in control.  Nor do I need to be one hundred percent prepared, armed with my to-do list and my band-aids, for every situation that comes my way.  The sooner I can accept this fact and let go of my “knowledge is power” mentality, the sooner I will experience that sweet, sweet peace that surpasses all understanding.  And that trust and peace will get me a lot farther than the right pair of shoes, no doubt.

So maybe I’m not quite “ready.”  But I’m coming.  Because Mr. Snicket is spot on: if I waited until I was ready, until all was understood and sorted and known, I’d be sitting right here waiting for the rest of my life.  Taking a leap of faith is all part of the adventure.  So ready or not, London, here I come.

{A lovely building at my new university, Richmond.}