Inside the dimly lit cabin, people around me stirred in their sleep. This was a routine flight for some but not for me. My stomach twisted with butterflies as twinkling lights appeared below. Rows of them stretched down dark highways. It was early in the morning and I wandered, where were people going at this hour? A new day was about to begin in Britain. Children would catch the bus to school. Trains would fill with suits and newspapers. And for the first time, I would step foot out of Africa.
I wanted to text a picture of the lights to my boyfriend and family. I wanted to share the exhilaration with someone. But it was my special moment, tired but wide awake in a plane in the sky. I pulled my blanket up to my chin and gazed outside with a stupid smile on my face. I wandered if Heathrow would look like it does in the movies. Would people be hugging hello and goodbye in tears? Would I be able to find my friend in the airport? Would I have enough money to last two weeks? I couldn’t wait to taste Starbucks coffee and explore ancient cobbled streets. I wanted to wander through Harrods and Hamleys and fulfill every other cliche you could think of.
The cabin lights were suddenly turned on and air hostesses began wheeling trays of plastic plates down the aisles. Babies woke up crying and people stood up to stretch and straighten their clothes. As I slipped on my shoes and searched for my toothpaste, I thought, I love England already.
This was August 2005. I fell madly in love with England and returned to live for a year. I would have stayed, visa permitting. Thank you for sharing this memory with me.
opening photo – breakinthecode.com