Seven years ago… I came to Europe for the first time, in the best way possible: with my best friends (then and now).
In the summer of 2005, 17-year-old Kristen was on the edge of all that was to happen Next: graduation from high school, off to the Brave New World, and of course the current utter unknown.
But back then, I just enjoyed my whirlwind tour of Europe that culminated in the most wonderful August days in England you could imagine, marking my first official steps into the country that would become my home twice in the next seven years.
One year ago, I returned to the same locations for the first time since 2005: Bath and Stonehenge.
I delighted in realizing that I recognized many of the places from before, including the “wishing well” in the Roman Baths where 17-year-old Kristen threw in a coin after taking a picture just like this, wishing for God knows what. Naturally I had to recreate (expression and all). You’re just gonna have to trust it’s like the old picture, which was taken in the olden days before Facebook was around to immortalize everything forever.
This time around, 23-year-old Kristen had a lot of experiences under her belt. By this point, I’d been back to England twice more (once as a tourist and once to live for the semester as a student), so of course they basically made me Queen. I’d done the college thing (with a few bumps along the way) and was a year into grad school. I was edging into my major life changes but not quite yet. There was still time for wishing.
One week ago, I was back at Bath and Stonehenge.
Once a student, now the teacher (really… I even had the “Educational Tour Leader” sticker to prove it at Stonehenge! Of course, I got scolded by the guard for not being with my students but once I explained they are 18 and not requiring supervision by Stonehenge Laws he relented. Take that, Stonehenge man!). I’ve been introducing others to the places I first saw when I was their age, delighting in their general 18-year-old-ness.
Even though I am a Grown Up and Educational Tour Leader (naturally), there’s still time for wishing.
Most importantly, I’ve found comfort in visiting these historic landmarks that have literally withstood the test of time, that have been there for millennia, that have been viewed and worshipped and adored and drawn and photographed by others long before me and long after me. I drank the water that Seneca drank, for pete’s sake!
For me, they have been the witnesses to my personal life changes for the past seven years. For as much as I have changed, you know what hasn’t changed?
From August 2005, to July 2011, to September 2012…
Steady as a rock. (Stop it, Kristen, you’re too funny!)
Also hasn’t changed: