My summer has been a blur of cab rides, pinot grigio, beaches and museums. I’ve spent most of the time either worrying about my future after graduation in the spring or being nostalgic about the past, a cycle I think I broke while in London.
It was the near end of a lively night out at the city’s bar scene when a few friends and I were invited to an after-after party at a club downtown. My clothes were damp from dancing, so I sprinted to my room to change into my favorite black dress before everyone left.
When we met outside our building at 3:30 a.m., however, it was too late to travel very far, so we decided to stay in South Kensington and watch the sunrise from Hyde Park.
I was introduced to a friend of a friend on our way, and we immediately started talking as if we had known each other for a long time. Upon arriving at the park, we all found a clearing with a good view of the horizon and lit up some cigars, which took about half an hour to smoke — adequate time to see the early England sun coming up (days are much longer there during the summer).
Imagine being in Boston Common before the city begins to stir: no workers, no proselytizers, no students walking through — just a vast, quiet field. This is what it felt like to be alone in Hyde Park, but it’s about 10 times the size of the Common.
After the initial sunrise, the others headed back home, but my new friend and I decided to linger. We walked over to the small pond in Kensington Palace’s backyard and waved good morning to whatever members of the royal family were there. We sat on a bench to look at the ducks swimming around, and then he proceeded to remove my favorite black dress as we got to know each other even better.
Afterward, we went over to a beech tree (at least I think that was the kind of tree) and got to know each other again. He wanted to go check out a patch of tall grass, but I didn’t want to get bitten by a tick. Before we left each other for the night (morning by now), we went into one of the iconic British phone booths and had a last goodbye.
I hadn’t felt this alive in such a long time. Those two hours had been so surreal that I thought I was in a lucid dream. It wasn’t until I went home and ate some Special K that I fully accepted I was awake.
This kind of happiness wasn’t exactly because I was with a seriously attractive guy, and it wasn’t because I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was just the first time I wasn’t wistful about the past, nor was I anxious about the future, but instead just let myself be for a short while.