I’ve been busy.
Generally, being busy is a good thing, and I’ve always had a lot to do: my full-time day job, my writing, a few hobbies, my home and my family. But lately I’ve been teetering on that edge between industriously occupied and insanity.
But it’s all good because…
I went to England in October.
This all began sometime last winter when the dreaded approach of my Half Century Celebration (otherwise known as the Big 5-0) reared its gray head. My daughter (my younger child) started to look at colleges. I began thinking about my 30th wedding anniversary next year. And I became a grandmother. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like the arrival of the next generation to make you sit up and take notice of time racing by!
I’ll be honest, a part of me wallowed a little. A part of me was grateful, too—I’m in good health, have a wonderful family and friends, etc. But I’ve reached the age where it’s time to accept reality—there are things I will not get to do because there simply isn’t time, or the opportunities have passed. And that’s kind of sad.
I don’t like feeling sad. So I decided to celebrate The Year of Turning 50 by doing something brave. Something amazing. Something that would make a big dent in my bucket list. I got an invitation to join a few friends on a trip to England. I finagled my various obligations and seized the day—or rather, I seized most of October—and I took my first international trip.
Let me just interject here—If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, you already know this universally acknowledged truth: going to England is like beaming up to the mother ship. For the first week, I’d get up in the morning, turn to my friends and say, “We’re in Bath.”
Or “We’re at Chawton.”
Or “We’re in Derbyshire.”
I could not get used to the idea that I was riding by #4 Sydney Place, where Jane Austen lived for a time:
Or sitting in Jane’s garden:
I found myself rather verklempt as I gazed upon the table where some of the Jane’s genius work was crafted:
And downright teary as I read the inscription on her grave marker in Winchester Cathedral:
Sure, there’s more to England than Jane Austen—and I saw much more while I was there—but for me, these quiet, unassuming glimpses into the life of my favorite author were some of the greatest treasures of my trip.
Much like the ordinary, extraordinary genius of Jane Austen is one of the great joys of English literature.
(More about my pilgrimage to England as November continues…)