It is a dream forty years in the making. A dream of walking the dusty halls of history burnished bright with expectation and stirring the ancient particles with my passing. A dream of breathing in spaces that Shakespeare or Dickens inhabited long ago, and trailing my fingertips along the broken walls and aged stones of my ancestors. It is a dream that has, at last, emerged from the buried hopes of someday into the sunshine of today.
I sit with my husband in Pret a Manger a few blocks from our hotel absorbing the fact of my presence in England. The accents spoken at the tables beside me are British. The black cabs parked at the curb outside are British. The butter on my baguette tastes foreign, and I am eating a crayfish and avocado salad. You will not find crayfish on the menu at Pret in Chicago. I believe, at this moment, I can truly claim there is not another soul on this great green isle of England who is happier to be here than I am.
It is my first trip to London.
Even though we are tired from our overnight flight and the everlasting traipse through customs, I can't bear to waste a moment of the time I have been given. I have meticulously mapped our course for the afternoon, so we set off to explore Westminster with the light that is left to us.
|The guardians of the Abbey|
|The guardians of Parliament|
|Looking up the road toward Piccadilly|
|Guardians of the Queen at Buckingham Palace|
Already, we have met some lovely people: a young woman who offers to help me up the steps with my luggage at Pimlico Tube Station, and a middle-aged gentleman who kindly offers directions when he sees us standing on the corner with our map and looking puzzled. We eat fish and chips for supper at The Barley Mow and return to our hotel to rest for another day.