Alrighty! Well I’m pleasantly surprised to find I did journal about the taxicab driver when I was in England. All this weekend I’ve been submitting to journals. Yesterday was Chicken Soup for the Soul. Today I’m aiming for the Silver Linings Writing Contest and one other.
The “other” being… of a mature rating… of a certain kind of anthology…
…. and also I may not get to it. We’ll see.
(Update: I know I’m not getting to it, so I’m not stressing. T’was low on my list. ANYWAYS.)
So, for my Silver Lining, I am reading through my England journalings. Back in 2009, I signed up for a study abroad program at Lancaster University. I was shy, scared, and on my own. For the first time in any of my travels. It’s one thing to travel alone for the first time in your home country. But another to travel alone for the first time in a completely new country.
My emotions were accurate.
The most memorable moment of my England jaunt was when I went to London to visit an American family. They were relatives of a woman at church and I promised I would connect with them. Around the time of Thanksgiving, I did. We had a wonderful visit. I was pleasantly surprised to find them with an American-English Thanksgiving feast in their kitchen. Honestly, I really hadn’t expected it. And I had been missing home. I remember at their house, I forgot I was in England.
The whole visit was a wonderful recharge from culture shock. Because of them, I could get through my finals that would start in a few weeks.
Man, I forgot how tough college is sometimes. Especially abroad.
So on the adventure back to Lancaster (in Northeast England — up between Manchester and The Lake District), it definitely took smarts.
- The American family saw me off in Ely.
- Train from Ely to Birmingham.
- Train from Birmingham to Preston.
- Train from Preston to Lanc–
–well, that’s when we hit a speed bump.
The train from Preston to Lancaster had been cancelled. It was 10PM. Thirty miles to Lancaster. No other trains were coming.
How was I to get back to my dorm? Was I to wait for the morning? Get a hotel room? Miss my Monday classes?
Cue Angelic interference. Three women I had talked to on the train disembarked. They saw my deer-in-the-headlight expression. They were headed to Lancaster too. Or past it. I don’t remember. All I remember: they were headed in the same direction.
Could they drop me off? Nope. Of course their car was full.
However, the women did help me in another way. There were taxicabs lined up outside of the station. Waiting for a customer.
“Can someone give me a ride to Lancaster University?” I mumbled. Tired. Frustrated. Shy. Uncertain.
The drivers sprung into action. They bickered over who would take the large fair. In hindsight, I realized it was rare for most drivers to make a £45 fare. Honestly, I consider it a win-win for both of us. I really didn’t want to stay in a hotel, so I was happy to pay him. Like Kismet, I had the perfect amount of cash in my wallet — for fare and a generous tip.
10:00PM. Cab ride, Preston to Lancaster University.
The Indian driver and I chat here and there. I take in the M2 Motorway. Lancaster University was in the countryside, just outside of Lancaster itself. So I really hadn’t had the opportunity to take in a highway or city life. I did get to walk around London by myself for twenty minutes, and now I get to view the highway. Definitely an alluring sight.
The driver pipes up suddenly. The words that come out of his mouth floor me.
“You are gorgeous!” He says.
I’m sure my expression followed the Emoji: (⊙﹏⊙✿)
“Uh… thanks.” I stammer. At that point in my life I wasn’t really confident in my appearance. Especially because I had lost half of my weight before England through a starvation diet, only to gain it back during my three month stay.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Asks the driver.
“Does he take care of you?”
“Do you… ‘gupti-gupti’ with boyfriend?”
“Uh… uh. Yeah.”
I mean, come on, what else was I going to say? I wasn’t sure where this conversation was leading… and frankly I didn’t go there. I wanted to get home. So I did what my parents raised me to do: politely change the subject.
Ten minutes later, I was back on Lancaster University. The memory behind me.
Honestly, looking back on that memory now, I chalk it up to a great story to tell. A travel story of my own. Almost six years later, I’m on my way to becoming the woman I always wanted to be. Maybe, just maybe, this cab driver was seeing what I couldn’t see: confidence, beauty, intelligence, and a passion for exploring the world.
Even if I was so shy back then, I am proud I made it through. I accomplished what I thought was impossible: a study abroad, with good marks, and a heck of a lot experience under my belt. Now, in 2015, I’m a passionate writer, an anxious explorer, and ready to take on the world. That is my Silver Lining.
Look out. Here I come.