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confessions of an anglophile

January 14, 2011

(Nosh Friday will be posted tomorrow, fear not. In the meantime…)

Anyone who’s talked to me for more than five minutes probably knows that once upon a time, as a spry lass of 21, I lived in England for a beautiful six months of my life. (I’ve blogged about this before, I know…) I studied abroad at a small college in northwestern England, in a market town called Ormskirk, studying creative writing and English literature, drinking tea, eating scones and wandering the cobbled streets of the country with a group of wonderful friends from all over the world.

Bliss, bliss, utter bliss.

For some reason, around this time of year, I get so sentimental for that place and those times that it almost hurts. Last week, January 6, marks the 5th anniversary of my trip across the pond. I was so nervous that day, packing to move to a country where I had never been, to live with people I had never met and to be away from all that I knew for six months. I bawled hysterically in the Grand Rapids airport as I waited for my flight, frightening a group of business men behind me who thought I was experiencing some kind of psychological trauma. Once I got to Chicago, I was so distracted that after leaving the restroom, I accidentally walked through half of O’Hare Airport with my pants completely unzipped and unbuttoned. (After receiving a LOT of weird looks from people, I looked down and figured it out.)

Once I was there, it was done — I was in love from the first dusty trip down the road from Manchester to Ormskirk. I remember calling my parents when we arrived at Edge Hill College and all I kept saying was “There are sheep everywhere! And it’s so green! And everyone is so nice! And the accents! And the hills! And the duck pond! And the pubs!” I think I spoke and thought and dreamt in exclamation points for months.

Leaving there was so hard. My parents came at the end of the semester to get me and we traveled around for two weeks, so it provided a bit of cushion; but saying goodbye to a group of friends that had become so dear to me and a town that I could walk in my sleep was heart-wrenching nonetheless. I remember my last morning in Ormskirk; it was very early and the small campus was empty as I walked to return the keys to my room. The only sounds were scurrying squirrels in the underbrush and the soft bump of the wheels of my luggage. In my morning solitude, I let the tears flow freely as my gaze drank in each and every detail of the buildings, the grass, the small cove where I used to walk at night, the ducks, the hyacinth by the library. I felt a deep ache to leave this place that I had come to love like a home. Even now, I still dream about walking through that place all the time.

Today, as I am States-side for the forseeable future, I supplement my Anglophile ways with copious BBC miniseries (currently, I am obsessed with From Lark Rise to Candleford — I want to live in that place in that time, I swear I was English in a past life) and the baking of currant scones. I miss it all the time and I don’t think that will ever go away.

What places have you left your heart?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy Carr permalink
    January 14, 2011 2:20 pm

    Caroline – I think you know the answer….the English countryside. Lakes and mountains and seaside, too….not so much London. All, the most lovely ever. I understand your love affair with the small Island (Bill Bryson). They sent us across the Pond nearly three centuries ago with their best strengths as our heritage. Let’s go back once more.

  2. January 14, 2011 8:20 pm

    What an amazing experience! I spent 3 weeks in Thailand with a non-profit 6 years ago and experienced the same kind of wonder and awe- as well as terror and tears in O’Hare before I left! I spent a short time in Ireland a few years ago and still hold it in my heart. One of my favorite places for sure.

  3. SJR permalink
    January 16, 2011 6:27 pm

    A: In your oven.

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