26th Birthday and a last minute trip to London

On February 1st, two important things happened. I turned 26 and I made a crazy, impromptu weekend trip to London. It was also the year anniversary of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, but who’s counting?

I found out a few weeks before that the weekend of my birthday, which was on a Monday, was a long one. We had Friday and Monday off. I joked to G a few times that I should fly to London, but it was always a joke. That’s 24 hours of flying for one weekend. That’s crazy.

Flash to Thursday morning. I woke up from a really vivid dream that I was in London with my girlfriends, getting ready to go out. Nothing special happened, it just felt SO real. And I woke up devastated it wasn’t. Heartbroken I wasn’t about to meet all my friends at the pub, that Gareth was actually half a world away, already midway through his Thursday.

So. I decided to be crazy. I booked the tickets. (Which I was able to do last minute because of the thousands of airline miles I obsessively collect.)

Also I was late for work, because I needed to make the decision, call the airline, and pack in the time it usually takes for me to just roll out of bed and get in my car (my morning routine, ladies and gentlemen). I spent the whole day buzzing with excitement. We had a birthday party at work for me and the other assistant who stole my birthday minus a year. Then I got a bunch of alerts that the plane was delayed by hours. I tweeted AA and they responded that they needed to find a whole new plane. Then I read this article and figured out why. That could have been me! That was the plane I was meant to take on its way back to the UK.

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It was mostly fine, I hung out in the admirals club and drank free wine. We boarded five and a half hours late, something I normally wouldn’t care about but that was a decent percentage of my total time in London! The flight was empty. Probably everyone else got on an earlier flight or decided to go home and sleep in their beds instead of wait at the airport until 1am. But not I! And I was rewarded with an empty row and basically a flight attendant all to myself.

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I landed in London and it was SO good to be back. It felt so surreal. 24 hours before I had no idea I’d be in London the next day. Seeing Gareth had been months away and actually being in London even longer. And suddenly, there I was! Fighting to get my oyster card working and sitting on the tube. It was a really special moment that reminded me not to take anything for granted, that the world is so much smaller than you think. And that Gareth really isn’t as far away as he sometimes feels. I took a picture to capture it. To me it’s a picture of the endless possibilities and the strange turns life takes. To everyone else it probably just looks like a train.

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Then I was home and everything was amazing. My keys still worked (obviously), the drawer of clothes G convinced me to leave were still there, ready to be worn (though I did raid it on my way back, shhh), and Gareth had flowers, dinner, chocolate, red wine, Prosecco, and a toothbrush ready and waiting for me (read: he is perfect). And all my friends dropped everything and met me at the pub that night. It was amazing. I made my literal dream come true!

The weekend was a lovely mix of seeing friends and getting some great one on one time with G. Both nights all my friends came over, and during the days Gareth and I would stroll around London, eat delicious food, and play our favorite card game. It was really perfect. It was just a glowy haze of fun and feeling so full and happy.

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The next morning the three people I hadn’t been able to see yet came over for breakfast (G makes the best breakfast sandwiches in probably the entire world), and then we went on another walk and then for my birthday dinner. Which was amazing. We keep trying to go to this Italian place by the train station, and it keeps being closed on the only night we can go. But instead we went to Olivelli on Lordship Lane, and it was perfect. The food was delicious and we had the most comically grumpy waiter. Also they had this dessert that was the best thing I’ve ever had. It wasn’t even chocolate, and it is RARE I enjoy a chocolate-free dessert. I don’t remember what it was called but the waiter said it was very traditional Sicilian. It looked like cottage cheese. And I want it 100 more times in my life.

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My last morning we had breakfast and watched bad TV, which was what we did most mornings this summer. Then he took me to the airport and even though it was sad, because it always is, this time it felt different. This time I knew that he really was just a plane ride away. That we could plan to see each other in May but we could change our minds and be with each other 24 hours later.

It was the perfect weekend. It didn’t feel too rushed, it didn’t feel like a clock was ticking down. It felt stolen, or like the most perfect birthday gift. I’m so incredibly happy I had a vivid dream and a crazy, impulsive reaction to it. I hope I have them more often.

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