Last week, I was in some other country somewhere. Wild, right? I kept a running diary of how things were going and my thoughts and whatnot, and I liked it enough to want to share. This is the second day, and the first day is here.
I want to spend my birthday in bed. I don’t care that I just landed in another country. I just want to sleep forever.
My birthday started somewhere over the ocean, but with time zone changes and everything I’m a little unsure when it actually happened. I guess it truly started when we finally landed in Manchester. We weren’t supposed to be in Manchester. We were supposed to fly to London, but delayed flights meant rescheduling and rerouting and somehow we ended up in Manchester. I don’t know anything about this city other than the fact it houses two soccer clubs I hate and that the only likeable character in Downton Abbey was from here, but they killed him. That show sucks.
Yes, today is March 7th, the day I was born. I don’t really like birthdays much. Not that I have anything against aging, I just don’t like the attention, so I would rather keep things low key. I want to spent my birthday in bed because I spent nearly eight hours crammed into a tiny plane seat with little sleep. And whenever sleep did come, it came in the form of me sitting upright with my head bobbing everywhere. I’m a heavy sleeper, so I don’t notice when it happens, but on the plane I kept flopping onto the older lady to my left. In the Manchester airport, I nearly flopped straight off of a bench I was sitting at.
I want to spend my birthday in bed. I don’t care if we finally reached London. I don’t care to learn information like the fact that our hotel is around the corner from the Russell Square Tube Station, where a bad bombing happened in 2005. I don’t even really care about trying to find a unique place to eat. I simply felt awful and wanted to lie down.
Chad Gibbs told me that when he travels, he often has these moments where something magical is happening and he stops himself entirely, says “Remember this”, and makes sure it stays with him. They’re the special moments that end up having the biggest impacts.
Well on the night of my birthday, we decided to try to find some landmarks at night to see if they were lit up. After somehow accidentally finding Trafalgar Square, we saw the general direction that the Thames was supposed to be and decided to follow the street. After a while, we weren’t sure if we were still going in the right direction.
London is a huge city, but it doesn’t really feel overwhelming like most big cities are. In particular, the street you walk down to get to the Houses of Parliament can start to feel a little underwhelming. You pass by a large amount of important government buildings and a few war memorials, but unlike the name, a lot of them tend to be forgettable. The buildings are built to be government buildings, fitting a bit of a uniform style and not really standing out. It’s easy to get lost in what can feel a little mundane.
Then we rounded a corner, and were caught completely off guard by Big Ben.
You would think it would be hard to overlook a giant clock, but sure enough, somehow we had lost track of where it was until it was just….there. And just like that, we had a “Remember this” moment. I instantly took a photo, a bad photo, but one I will always enjoy looking at because I see it and I remember this. It was the moment that it all suddenly was totally worth it. All the fatigue. All the time spent on planes and trains and walking. Even the time we had to spend in Manchester. It was the moment that it all became real.
Sure, it was one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, but until seeing it in person, I had no idea just how grand it was. I had no idea the insane amount of detail was on the Houses, the tower, and Ben himself. So we stared. We stared in awe. We stopped ourselves entirely to make sure it stayed with us. Remember this.
Birthdays to me can be very forgettable days. Often, they’re days just like all of the others in the year except with more Facebook notifications. They are uniform, they are mundane, and all too often they are forgettable. And maybe that’s really why I tend to dislike them. It’s not just the attention, it’s the lack of attention that I pay to the day itself. I wanted to spend this day in bed, content with a bad attitude and giving in to the fatigue. I wanted to do that. I’m glad we decided otherwise.
A birthday spent quietly on the Thames, simply basking in the sights? The blue lights illuminating the London Eye, and Westminister Abbey silently looking after her city? Yeah, that’s a moment worth remembering.
That’s a moment worth getting out of bed for.