I was on campus this last weekend, seeing all my friends who I hadn’t seen since December. One of my friends, who studied abroad last year in London, skipped the “hey, how was London?” that most people asked and instead asked “Does it feel like a dream yet?” The question struck me deep. I had to choke some tears down because she was spot on. That question had articulated what I’ve been feeling the last two weeks since being home. London felt like one crazy awesome, amazing, challenging and life-changing dream. I’ve got nothing to show for it but a few-tshirts, train tickets that are in my purse, my oyster card that i keep out of habit, and a lot of photos. Memories from the trip run through my head constantly. They are blurry and details are fuzzy. It’s like waking up from an actual dream. It seems so clear and real in your head, but when you wake up and think about it throughout the day you can barely remember any of it. Psychologists say that when you wake up from a dream you immediately forget like almost half of it. That’s crazy to me. But, It’s true. This dream-like trip is now a blur of castles, cathedral tours, small english towns, tube rides, theater shows, ridiculous british reality tv, class tours, musuems, the coach trip, etc. And coming home has been one big wake up call.
Life in Texas has been a reality check: driving on the right side of the road, the heat, no Digestives at the store, Walmart, living in the suburbs versus Central London,the riots in Baltimore, politics, the 3 months of my friends lives that I missed. Each a reminder that I’m back, awake, in this reality that I spent the last 21 years in. But similar to dreams, throughout my day there are things that remind me of London. I’ll be walking down the street and see a squirrel or a pigeon, and a memory from walking through Hyde Park or the parks near our flats will come to me out of nowhere. Yesterday, i was walking behind someone and they were smoking and I had huge flashback to the smoky streets of London. A song at a restaurant will take me back to the makeshift dance parties we had in our flat late in the evening. Playing cards with friends now reminds me of playing Dutch Blitz for hours on the coach trip. (because what else could you do in the Lake district?)
So, it might feel like a dream. But obviously I wasn’t asleep the last 3 months. I lost 10 lbs in London and that doesn’t happen by sleeping. That happens by living on the 4th floor, walking EVERYWHERE, and no fast food. Maybe I’m not doomed to forget everything. Even though the memories are not as clear as they once were, they certainly are not gone. And when I think they are, it just takes a little reminder (a song, a smell, a phrase) to rememeber the dream trip that was actually a reality