Tuesday, 20 January 2009

21 Across the Pond

Today was my 21st birthday, and I have to say, I wasn't sure how happy it would be.

The past couple of days have been really hard on me. I spent them cooped up in my room writing papers and reading a lot of "Leviathan." I didn't spend much time outside and didn't do much exercising at all (which, if you know me, you know that's really bizarre). Homesickness started to set in, and I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I had come here with the intention of seeing the world. Instead I was seeing the four walls of my room and my computer screen. Last night I was in tears, wishing more than anything that I could be back at Jewell with my girls, or at home with my family and friends, so I could celebrate my birthday with them. This is the second year in a row that I've been away from home on my special day, and birthdays have always been a really big deal to me. I didn't want my 21st to come and go like the past few days had.

But I was very pleasantly surprised...

As I wallowed in self pity, Will told me that I wouldn't be spending my birthday alone. I saw the smirk on his face through the web cam, and knew he had something up his sleeve. Turns out, he had taken the day off, so we could spend the day together via MSN video chat. Things were looking up.

This morning, I was determined to have a good day. I woke up when I felt like it, didn't even think about touching a book or paper, put on my most British outfit (a sweater left by Kristen, tights, and my boots), and went to town to buy something to make a wonderful birthday dinner.
I ran into Lena Endsley on my way there, who was heading to Blackwell's (Oxford's famous bookstore), so I decided to tag along. I brought my journal with me and decided to put down some scribbles while I was there. Blackwell's is incredible. They had books on every subject, and a TON of cookbooks. My Mecca. I sat in the bookstore for a while and jotted down some thoughts about the last few days, and then headed to the covered market to get some salmon for dinner. I picked out a beautiful filet, and I felt very much like a Top Chef contestant at Whole Foods carefully choosing my protein.

Anyway, so I picked up that along with some other salmon fixings and trotted back home. I spent the rest of the day on MSN with Will trip planning...or at least getting an idea of where we're going to go when he comes to visit. It took a while. He would be happy just showing up wherever and pitching a tent in the middle of a park. We definitely do not travel the same way. It was great to be able to talk to him, watch the inauguration together, and just be in each other's presence for the day. I was very proud of my salmon dinner, and it was much better than anything I could have ordered out. And I had a nice glass of White Zin to complement my meal in honor of my legality. :D

To officially celebrate my big day, all my friends and I went out to George and Danver's - Oxford's favorite ice cream shop. I had an ENORMOUS Brownie Sundae - huge brownie, two scoops of English custard ice cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and whipped cream! AMAZING!

And I have to say, what made my birthday most special was the present sitting on my shelf for the past 12 days, wrapped in lime green paper with "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 20th" written across it. Lindsay gave it to me before I left, saying it had to come with me no matter what. Today I found out why. She and Caitlin had collaborated to have friends from home and Jewell write me birthday messages, and she put them together in a scrap book. It was the sweetest thing I have ever been given, and I was reminded once again of how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

So that was my 21st birthday. It's 11:37 p.m. in Oxford, so my day is coming to and end...and I have to say that it was very very happy indeed. And so to bed.

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