Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting there

Well, hi y'all. It's been quite a while, now hasn't it?

Many things have changed in our household over the past six months. Looking back, it's been sort of a whirlwind, but at the time it seemed to drag on and on and on without a foreseeable goal/end in sight. I'm glad to say that our future seems more solid and certain now, and we have some goals that we've verbalized and decided to take some action to make those goals a reality. Which brings me to the topic of today's post...

Waaaaaaay back in the fall of 1990 and the spring of 1991, I was a sophomore in high school. I was assigned to take world history from Mr. Siegel. I'd only seen him in the halls as a freshman, and thought he was a little quirky, but still a likeable guy. I didn't realize the fire he'd light in me would burn brighter and brighter as I got older. Mr. Siegel didn't just teach a class and a set curriculum, he brought it to life. He was that kind of teacher. When we studied the American Civil War, he brought in a soldier's diary that he'd purchased at an auction many years prior. He passed it around the classroom for us to see the words that'd been penned more than a full century before any of us had been born. He let us touch the artifacts. The day he passed that diary around the class, one of my classmates raised their hand to let him know that they'd not seen the diary yet and thought they'd been skipped. Well, the truth is that once it got to my desk, it stayed longer than it should have. I touched the pages as if I were somehow communicating with the author himself. I relished the opportunity to hold in my hands something that was not of my own time. It was almost electrifying to me. He routinely brought in things from places he'd been: a genuine Egyptian cobra that someone had taken in for taxidermy, a real Nazi flag, a document signed by Abraham Lincoln and another document signed by a pope from several hundred years ago. He trusted us with his treasures and passed them around the class regularly. Just like the diary I mentioned earlier, they almost always got stalled at my desk. Except for that silly cobra, because y'all know how I feel about snakes.

He told us about the Renaissance, the Black Plague, the French Revolution, the 95 Theses and the Diet of Worms. About ancient Rome and both World Wars. About everything that had happened between the beginning of recorded history and the present time. But, the thing that struck my heart with a fiery passion was when he talked about England. He taught us about the Norman conquests, the origins of the Tower of London and of its long and storied, and often bloody history. He told us in graphic detail what happened to silly old Oliver Cromwell. About the little princes who would have been kings and how their uncle had them murdered. About the House of Tudor, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth and many, many more tidbits and facts that we would not have learned if we'd been just across the hall in another teacher's class. That year, when I was just 15 years old, I fell in love with London. That year, some fire was lit within me to go and see the history for myself. To this day, the desire has only grown stronger. The flame is still burning strong and my dream of going to London has never diminished.

Fast forward to 2009.

The Boy drove to my house with Fancy in tow. They told me they were coming to visit for the day, but they really had an ulterior motive. The drove two hours to my house so they wouldn't have to tell me over the phone that they were going to take a trip to Europe together, and that the entire first week of the trip would be spent in London. He drove all that way so he wouldn't break my heart. In a small way, it did break my heart a little, but I was sincerely glad that he was getting to go and have a great trip and see all the things I'd seen a thousand times in pictures, but never with my own eyes. They went and returned back home, but not without a little bit of passport drama along the way.

Now, we enter present day.

About a month ago, The Boy called me and said, "I've got the itch."

I replied with a rather clueless, "Huh?! What do you mean?"

He said, "I want to go back to London."

"Well hit the road, Jack. You've been before. Go do it again."

Again, a little part of me felt sad and left out and just all around 'grr!' over the fact that it'd probably be past retirement age before I got to go see and touch all that history.

He then said, "I've already mentioned it to Nanny and PawPaw, and they're cool with watching the kids while we go together."

I think my heart skipped a beat there.

"Really? Really and truly???"

"Yeah, I think so. Call her and discuss it further since it's your kids and it'll be on them to keep up with them."

You better believe that the second I hung up with him, I was on the phone with my mom. And guess what, she agreed to watch them.

So, I began thinking about how I'd manage to PAY for this trip Across the Pond. I have some money in savings, but it'd almost wipe it out to pay for the entire trip, plus food and souvenir money. I can't do that to my family. It's just too selfish, even if I have been waiting to get there for 21 years. So, it appeared that my dream was put on hold yet again. Oh well, I've grown used to waiting after all this time.


The Husband did our taxes. I was really worried we'd have to pay taxes this year because of a job change where he cashed out a large chunk of stock from his former company. However, he did our taxes and looked at me and said, "Well, it looks like we're getting X amount back on our return this year."

My eyes got as big as saucers, because the amount he told me would definitely provide the means for me to get to London and back. It was the first thing that came to mind. I looked at him and said, "Would it be possible to use some of that to pay for a plane ticket and a hotel room?" He replied with, "I don't see why not."

Man, I do love him. : )

That crazy day last June when our house caught fire, provided the means to get rid of a craptastic landlord and also the means to finance a dream I've had longer than any other in my entire life. I've wanted to go for more than half my life now, and it's looking very promising that I may get to finally go. I have filled out my passport application, and submitted it at the post office yesterday. One baby step closer.

I've not allowed myself to get truly excited. I don't think I'll even get a little keyed up until I actually purchase a ticket. But I know that if this is really happening, when we land in London I'll likely burst into tears of joy.

It seems like things are falling into place for it to be real this time. As if it's the proverbial lining up of the planets. As if it's just MY time to finally go and see and smell and taste and hear and touch the history in London. When I start thinking about how real it could be this time, I get teary-eyed. When I think about the possibility of touching the mortar that's been holding the Tower of London together for nearly a thousand years, I get teary-eyed and stupid. When I think of gazing at Big Ben with my own eyes, I get all teary-eyed and stupid. When I think about what it might smell like to have a plate of fish and chips cooking in the pub, I get all teary-eyed and stupid. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

I must go. It's not an option. I have to go before I die. It's on my "Bucket List". It's the only dream vacation I've ever wanted. Maybe now is the time.

If you feel so inclined, would you please pray that if it is indeed my time to take this trip that things would fall into place easily. Also, please pray that we would have safe travels, a safe and reliable plane and a competent and experienced flight crew. That our lodging would be safe and reputable. That our foot travels around the city and through "The Tube" would be safe, as well as any other things I'm forgetting right now.

I'll be sure to keep y'all updated about whether or not this comes to fruition.

Thank you, Mr. Siegel for helping me see and live history in your classroom and for making it really interesting and a fun learning environment.

And I can't help but add one last line, just for The Boy and Fancy. They'll understand it better than anyone:

"This is gon' be tha best trip evur!"