I’m having a really tough week trying to sort out all of my paperwork from my year abroad (and also trying to fix the ceiling leak that destroyed my laptop and flooded my kitchen!), and at times it feels like I would have been better off if I had never gone over to England. No sooner do I think that, though, than I think of all the amazing times I had in Europe, and I know that no matter how hard the aftermath of my year abroad is, I don’t regret it at all.
As I wrote this post, I recalled many of the incredible times I had in Birmingham. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to call this place home.
When I look back at Birmingham–at those moments I really felt at home–I think of the cozy mornings I spent sipping tea at my favorite coffee shop. I smile at the thought of all the hours I spent in the Waterstone’s bookshop. And of course, even now that I’ve been back in the US for three months, not a day goes by that I don’t recall all of the wonderful times I had in Birmingham with my amazing friends.
Birmingham by night
Dan got back to Birmingham yesterday, which was really nice. I had worked on my essay all afternoon, and by the time he got here, I was feeling a little run down. He could tell I needed to get out, so he suggested that we go see a movie or have a coffee at Starbucks or whatever I wanted. It was already dark outside, and I decided that it would be nice to see the stars.
So we took the train to Longbridge, on the outskirts of Birmingham. From there we took a bus a little bit farther to Lickey Hills, which is eleven miles away from Birmingham’s city centre. Although it was dark, the clouds were reflecting enough of the city’s light that we could see well enough to find a path to climb up the hill. The path was very winding, so it took us about fifteen minutes to get to the top of the hill. When we finally did, we had a beautiful view of all of Birmingham. We also had a view of the hill just next to us, which was taller than the one we were on. We decided that we should definitely go climb the taller hill.
We found a path down the first hill and discovered that we needed to walk across a golf course in order to get to the other hill. As we walked through the golf course, we saw someone with a flashlight in the distance. For some reason, we thought that it was a police officer or something (it was only about 6pm, but I think we were paranoid because it was so dark out, and it felt like we were breaking all sorts of rules being there), so we ran and hid behind some trees until the person had passed, and then we sneakily made our way to the base of the hill. We got there, but then we couldn’t find a good path to climb it, because so many of the trees and plants were overgrown.
All of a sudden, we saw the person with the flashlight just behind us, so we charged through the bushes and sprinted up the hill. Afraid that the policeman was right behind us, we kept running until we were about halfway up the hill. We slowed down for the rest of the way, and when we found a bench near the top of the hill, we sat down for a few minutes to catch our breath. Then we moved on to a clearing, where we saw a small castle thing, which looks like this during the day (photo courtesy of Wikipedia):
We climbed into it and looked across all of Birmingham. The expanse of glittering lights was beautiful, and we could just barely see the city centre in the distance. It was pretty warm out, and I had worked up a sweat running up the hill, so it almost felt like that nice temperature of existence, where you don’t notice that it’s hot or cold. The night was cloudy, so I didn’t get to see the stars, but every once in a while, the full moon would pop out from behind the clouds. It was so beautiful, and I think Dan and I each had a spiritual moment from the view. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night.
There were other people on the hill, and we realized that the person we had seen with the flashlight was probably not a policeman but just a park-goer who had been practical enough to bring a torch to see in the dark. But I think we’re still pretending it was a vicious police officer with a lust for blood; we just barely escaped his wrath.
This particular hill was called Beacon Hill, because at one point it was part of the countrywide network of beacons. There were men keeping watch day and night, and if they saw a threat of invasion (or if they saw a beacon from one of the surrounding hills), they would send out a beacon to warn others. I love that so much of England has some form of history attached to it. In the States, a hill is usually just a hill, but at the same time, I don’t think I paid as much attention; when I do get back home, I’d like to make it my goal to keep my eyes open for things like that.
P.S. I’m making pretty good progress on my essays, but I probably won’t make another post until after I turn in the essay that’s due on Wednesday. Until then, I love you all!
Always take a shower, because you never know when you’re going to be in a movie
Today was a no-shower day. Mostly because I’m getting ready for my next trip, I’m working on essays, and the only thing I needed to go out for was a trip to Tesco and the post office. To get to the post office, I needed to go through the German market, but I didn’t think that would be a big deal. So I washed my face, wrestled my hair into a ponytail and headed out, figuring nobody would pay attention to a greasy university student.
I successfully sent my letters and was on my way back home when a few people stopped me. They said they were making a movie and asked me if I had just two minutes to answer some questions.
As a side note, the last time I was in Chicago, the marketing team for Eagle Eye approached me and asked if I would watch the trailer for a movie that was in production and then complete a questionnaire about how interesting it looked. I figured these people in Birmingham were asking me to do the same thing.
They took me over behind one of the stalls (that sounds really shifty, but it was still within sight of the rest of the market—don’t worry, I’m not blindly following people down back alleys or anything!), stood me in front of professional camera gear, held one of those big fuzzy microphones near my face, and asked me questions.
You know how in documentaries, the directors will sometimes do a few shots of what random people off the street think about whatever the documentary happens to be about? Yeah, I was one of those random people off the street. The movie was about courage, so they asked me a few questions about what I think courage means (I should have replied that courage is going on camera without showering beforehand), and three minutes later, I was on my way again.
Now I’m blasting Christmas music and getting ready for my trip to Wales. I’ll be in Cardiff for the rest of the week, so I probably won’t post again until early next week.