MIND THE GAP! Shouts a concerned subway attendant. This startles me from the wide-eyed daze I had been drifting in since we packed ourselves on to the London train. Clumsily I maneuvered my bulging red suitcase through the small exit doors, and over the hole between the train and train platform. Finally popping out onto the platform I started to breath again. Only to catch my breath once more as I look up in horror at the two flights of stairs still to climb to reach daylight. I realized, with startling clarity why most Londoners like to travel light. I had a strong feeling that this trip was going to be a real eye opener.
First off, I’m a real down to earth, small town country girl. I love living in a one street town with a max population of 1,068. I enjoy being able to go to the bank or to the post office and knowing the person behind the counter. I love going in to the local Dairy Queen and listening to the elderly talk about their childhood adventures in Cross Plains, Texas, even though our town hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years. Walking down the main street takes hours because everyone has to say hello, ask about your sisters and brothers, and share the local gossip about someone’s cousin who started dating the sheriff’s daughter. I love my small town, but it isn’t London.
London embodies the fast paced, live on the edge, peak of life style. Double-decker tour busses dwarf the town cars, motorcyclists race madly down side streets laying on the horn if a tourist even looks like they are in the way. Fashion houses like Prada, Gucci, and Chanel display their goods like candy in a candy shop. Walking down the street involves being assaulted by a variety of different smells; freshly cooked Indian food followed by a whiff of high quality perfume wrapped up in the over powering smell of cigarette smoke. People in London dress in suits or high couture dresses with a look of indifference gracing their beautiful faces. The tourists are easy to spot with their “I love London” souvenirs, cameras, and their big-eyed looks of wonder. London is a world away from Cross Plains, Texas.
Coming back home from London I began to see a change in the way I viewed the world around me. Instead of seeing a town with wide-open spaces now I see an isolated town with its walls up while it slowly suffocates me. I loved growing up in a small town, but I feel like it is time to shed this over-protective shell and start to experience new things. I long for a fast paced world full of more than just going hunting and fishing on the weekends. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel to London with my family. The experience opened my eyes to a whole new world outside of Cross Plains. I see that my outlook on life used to be narrow with low expectations. Traveling to London has broadened my goals and given me a determination and a drive to succeed. I don’t have to stay in Cross Plains, get married, and have three kids. I can be a business owner, or a world famous software engineer. I now look at both my small town, and the world differently. I look forward to visiting other travel destinations like Africa, India, or China, and experiencing new foods or learning a new language. The sky is the limit.
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