This September will mark my fourth year living in charming England. My experiences have been beyond any expectation I have ever had. When I first met handsome man ‘o mine in 1996, I was completely taken by his demeanor. He was chivalrous and any friend that has met him will confirm he continues to live up to that description—without fail. That meeting changed me. It is the reasons why I lead the life I currently lead. My braveness, I owe partly to the man I fell in love with over ten years ago—through letters written by hand and then that special meeting in person.
As a teenager, I would dream how my life might be if I could ever muster the courage and take the plunge. A plunge into the unknown world of living amongst British life of red letter boxes, dainty tea cups, and weekend trips to villages so very quaint and picturesque. Dreaming about such excited me yet I often had questions of, why on earth would a girl uproot herself from America’s southland of cotton fields and stately homes when she did not even have the slightest clue as to what a creamed tea consisted of?
I had a family tree rooted in the southern states of America and my childhood family vacations were planned around whether or not we could drive there by car. I had not stepped foot onto an airplane, fingered foreign money or even own a passport. Yet, long before I met handsome man ‘o mine, I knew my life would consist of more than what Mississippi had to offer. I fell in love with the idea of immersing myself in a culture that was not my own. Perhaps this dream was a wanted escape.
I remember family trips in my parents’ Jeep Cherokee tearing along the highways, my legs wedged behind my father’s seat, feeling the very bounds of my belly hurling forward amongst the bends in the roads, images playing vividly on the back of my eyelids. I imagined running, leaping over the cracks in the highway, feeling the burning sensation of the hot pavement through my glittery jelly shoes. I scampered through corn fields, darting through back yards of green bladed turf. It was as if I longed to go somewhere but at the time I wasn’t sure where or even when.
It was four years later, that I met Russell. A friend from my church youth group so fascinated with the Beatles, he insisted I love them equally. Listening to “Strawberry Fields Forever” amongst stacks of CD and magazine articles, I found an instant infatuation with the accents of the British. This obsession eventually cultivated to that of an anglophile.
It wasn’t until the winter of 1998 that I boarded a plane to London. One year after my first embrace with handsome man ‘o mine. That single trip planted a seed—a seed that later after years of nurturing grew uncontrollably like ivy to a stone wall. Tears flowed, curving my face and plummeting to my lap as I waved goodbye to the city and traveled back to Mississippi. I felt that leaving London was like leaving home. I had found a new place to hang my hat. Eventually, not even the fear of the unknown could stop me from beginning a new life in a new and different country five years later after marrying my first love.
I am still amazed I am here and each day is faced with a brave heart and a new outlook on life. I no longer fear life. I simply live it well and am happy that my life now suits me just fine. I owe it all to a few love letters—that handsome man ‘o mine keeps safely in a decoupage box—and two hearts with one hope.