I had the privilege of being able to study abroad in London. I studied abroad in London first, because to me London was the dream. Growing up reading Jane Austen and watching movies set in 18th century England convinced me that I was born in the wrong place and time. The history, beauty and character that England offered enchanted my childhood. So arriving in London felt like a dream. I had a Swiss friend who was in graduate school in London at the time come pick me up at the airport and take me to her place before I moved into my flat the next day (yes, I did make the effort to incorporate their vocabulary while I was there, because it’s so much cooler and sounds more proper than American vocabulary. I also spelled colour with a u, deal with it.)
With my internship, and the fact that I thought that London was going to be in two different seasons from January to May I brought two large suitcases, a carry-on suitcase and my laptop bag. Of course, I quickly learned London has one season: rain. I also made the mistake of assuming that my friend Cara would be willing to help me with my luggage. Unfortunately, she had sprained her ankle while walking and that somehow hindered her ability to roll a suitcase so she only offered to take my carry-on, which left my 5’1 frame carrying a 50 lbs. suitcase in each hand. To get to Cara’s apartment we had to ride the London Tube, which already had me jumping in my seat with excitement and amazement. The London Tube was such an amazing experience that it made me feel like I was at a 5 star hotel. It made the Boston T look like a hostel that would most likely give you bed bugs in comparison. London even has a museum dedicated to the history of the London Tube! I can understand why; the efficiency and comfort of the Tube never ceased to impress me for the five months that I lived there.
Once we arrived at Cara’s stop, I had to go up the escalators with my two large suitcases that added up to be 100 lbs., which was only eight lbs. less than my entire body weight. I’m petite and I’m weak. These are two things about myself that I’ve learned to accept, and most of the time as long as I put on a pathetic look that screams “Help me please,” a nice gentleman offers his assistance and I’m off the hook. Not this time.
There was no one behind me to for the escalator going up to scream for help with my eyes and my friend Cara had gone ahead of me with my 10 lbs. carry-on suitcase. I was on my own. Looking back, I’ll admit my strategy sucked, but I was afraid to leave a suitcase by itself in a city I’d been in for about an hour and to me running on to the escalator with a suitcase in each hand seemed like my best bet. It was a terrible idea. I dropped both suitcases and the escalator would drag my suitcases up and then they’d fall down, while I was rising up. So for the first time in my life I got to fulfill a fantasy of running against an escalator, but under the worst circumstances.
Of course, I was wearing high-heeled black boots as well because, high heels are a requirement in my life if I want to be eye-level with most people and not hurt my neck from having to look up all the time. But, the high-heeled boots actually caused me to fall not once, not twice, but more than five times in my attempt to run again the escalator in order to pick up my suitcases so that they weren’t just rising and falling on the escalator. This scenario didn’t just go on for 3 seconds, it went on for like two minutes, because somehow in this timeframe there was no one who needed to use this escalator to go up so I was alone. Although, the opposite escalator going down was packed and many people got free entertainment and apparently felt the need to immortalize this moment by pulling out their phones to take pictures and record my struggle so that my patheticness could be documented and shared.
Eventually a woman came behind me to get on the escalator and she was able to pick up one suitcase and I the other. However, I could not move on from the fact that my grand entrance to this beautiful, prestigious city that I’d dreamt about going to my entire life was probably uploaded to YouTube as “Pathetic Girl on Tube.”