Friday, August 07, 2009

An anniversary

Nine years ago today, I stepped off the plane at Heathrow airport. 18 years old and I'd moved to another country. To start a new life miles and miles away from what I knew. I'd only applied for my passport the month before so had just the one stamp.

I remember I was wearing a pair of really short shorts and my favourite tank-top. I was trying to grow my hair out and I believe I was still in that very brief phase of wearing contact lenses. I was two sizes smaller than I am now. I hadn't heard of blogs or owned a mobile phone as yet. I'd never driven a car or paid a bill. I'd never had any savings, instead I'd blow my entire (small) paychecks on books. In fact, I carried far too many books in my suitcase as it was but I did bring along a friend.

In the cab ride to N's home, I wanted to stick my head out the window and see everything. When I did though, someone yelled racist abuse at me. What I saw was so grey and dingy-looking anyway. I think I was expecting to land and see castles and grand, stately homes. England was very different than the England in my head.

It was a difficult transition, moving to England. There was a lot of growing up that needed to be done. It's still a work in progress. I'd like to become a citizen one of these days, but I haven't yet studied for my test. I'd like to see more of England, do some long-overdue exploring. Nine years is a very long time. Living in the United States seems like such a lifetime ago that some days I hardly believed it ever happened.

What did you do the summer you turned 18?


  1. 18 was a busy year for me...graduated, got married, had a baby, gave up old dreams for new dreams...

  2. My, you were brave! I have a mental picture of you as a reverse explorer . . . I was in Europe, too, at 18 but just visiting. So many adventures in only 6 weeks.

  3. Happy anniversary! I didn't realise that you were from the US originally.

    I was adventurous as an 18 year old too. I took a year off before university and went to work in Gemany, Central America and then travelled to Japan, Australia and Africa.

    Brilliant year!

  4. I wasn't nearly as daring as any of your other readers. I was ending a relationship, moving back home, and preparing for college. (LOL, high school years were a bit tumultuous for me).

    How brave and exciting to get off of a plane and walk into a new life and world with someone you've fallen in love with. And a huge congratulations that it has been a success!

  5. So very brave of you to travel so far from home - I think I was going on my first grown up summer holiday to Spain when I was 18!

  6. Wow, that was incredibly brave of you! I thought I was crazy to move 1200 miles away from home on a whim but you moved to a different country! When I was 18, I was hard at work in my freshman year of college.

  7. I'm so jealous. I would have loved to have done something like this at 18. How exciting!

    The summer right before my 18th bday (Oct) was the best summer of my life. That is when I first started dating my husband. It was such a fun and romantic time. If I could go back to any other time, it would be that year.

  8. Summer between high school and college. I was dating the hottest guy I'd ever date and he was doing every romantic thing in the book. Sawoon! Don't tell, but there are things I DIDN'T do that I regret not doing now! The curse of being a good girl!

  9. You were younger than I was when I took that step, and you have stayed longer than I did! It's nearly 10 years since I came home.

  10. Marg - were you in England as well?

    Lisa - too funny! There are a few things as an 18 year old I'd love to re-do as well!

    Jen - I'm glad it was a happy year for you :) The first stages of a relationship are so exciting..

    Katie - your move sounds really scary as well! Don't discount it because it isn't another country, still a huge transistion.

    Janette - Haven't done much travelling in Europe, I'm afraid. Would love to.

    Christina - thank you, I'm quite happy about the success of my marriage as well :) Your story sounds intriguing though! Would love to hear more.

    Jackie - wow. Tell me more, please? Especially about Japan!

    JG - a reverse explorer! What a fantastic way to describe it. :)

    Kaylen - it all sounds so bittersweet, the way you describe. More than a little sad.

  11. Yes, I lived there for 5 years.

  12. 9 years! wow you are so brave Michelle

    summer turning 18 jeepers can't believe it was so long ago now...cried over a-level results with 6th form friends, worked a boring job and packed up to go to uni - I suppose my adult life really started that year...

  13. Fun story!

    The summer I was 18 I spent working very hard to save money for college which I started that fall. I was also spending lots of time with my boyfriend, who became my husband three years later. It was a very normal 18 year old summer.

  14. Marg - How fun! Did you always know you'd leave? How did that work?

    Shadowfalcon - It seems like a long time, and also, like yesterday. 'Adult life' Nah, I don't think that's started for me as yet..

    Suey - Sounds like fun :) In some ways, I wish I had more of a normal life..


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