See you next year! / by Tori Reed

There is mixed feelings in me as I sit at Heathrow airport waiting for my flight home. The last three months has been beyond words, and as much as I am looking forward to coming home to New Zealand, I'm also a slightly blue to be leaving all the beautiful friends I have here, new and old. There have been Buddhist Nuns and heroin addicts; musicians and tone deaf appreciators; yoga teachers and alcoholics; lovers, likers, haters, fighters, I've met them all. They've taken the time to listen to me, let me into their lives and have given back much more than I've taken. I have had the pleasure of being around so many different characters, it's going to be hard to get back into the swing of 'normal' life.

My entry into England was nothing like my exit. I arrrived to (if you didn't read my first blog) unhelpful, cold people. I took the train from Heathrow to Victoria Station, got stuck in the turnstile (because of my ridiculous quantaties of baggage. Tip of the year. Don't try to carry your own weight in baggage. It causes blood blisters on your shoulders and over heated frustration. I do believe this is the only time my extreme stubborness has been a good trait) and NO ONE gave me a shove. I asked to make a text message from a dozen people's phones and they ran from me terrified I was a thief or maybe a murderer!  I'm not exaggerating. This country is founded on distrust and fear, but when you manage to break beneath that hard callous of anxiety and apprehension, you find generous, warm people who are kind, open and honest.

Maybe, over three months, I've adapted to the English ways and that is why my exit was so much easier. Or maybe I lucked out. Maybe being fresh from a good nights sleep, followed by a fantastic day of laughter, music and good company meant I was better equipped to give the fearful my energy. I don't know, but I'm grateful. I'm pleased that it rained the whole day of my last day in England. Otherwise I would have gone home convinced that I'd been lied to for a long time about the weather over here. I'm glad I encountered hostility when I first arrived, as it gave me an advantage on how to break through those shells. I want to thank the people who made me delve deeper into myself to find some vestige of humility and politeness when what I really wanted to do was shout “Please discard your socially conditioned thoughts that I am in any way anything but a person who wants to smile with you”.

Thank you United Kingdom (and Irealand, but that's quite wordy) for reminding me what a good friend is, and giving me the confidence to do this on my own. See you next year!