Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | December 14, 2007

Top 5 Memories of 2007: #2

#2 – Independence in London

I rang in 2007 in the middle of a chaotic mass of people in Trafalgar Square in London. It was a drunken mess and it actually was my least favorite night of the trip. My favorite memory would come from a trip that I took by myself.

It was the Wednesday before we left, and I still had to get some information for my research on “Catholicism in Modern-Day London.” I took the Central Line from Notting Hill Gate to the Victoria stop. My black pea coat and gray dress pants made me look like every other Londoner. I got off the Tube and started walking towards the Westminster Cathedral. It was already dark out, but I felt completely at home as I made my way through the winding streets. Mass wouldn’t be starting for another half hour (I made sure I left early in case I missed the Tube), so I crossed the street and picked up a few souvenirs from the Cathedral’s gift shop. Finding a few good things and feeling satisfied, I went back to the Cathedral for mass.

I think it was during that service that I really understood the universal nature of the Catholic faith. There were people from all different backgrounds in that huge, beautiful church. A stereotypical English man in a business suit sat behind me. To my right was a family of African descent (you can’t call them African-Americans in London! Ha!). There was an Asian family a few pews ahead. I was going to mass in a completely different continent, but I still felt at home. And I could tell that everyone else there felt at peace, too.

After mass, I prayed for a bit, and then wandered around the cathedral. I was in back looking at some information on the tower of the Cathedral. A tall, skinny old man asked me if I was interested in going up to the top of the tower. It was only 3 pounds to go up there, he said. I told him I didn’t know if going at night would be as enjoyable as going in daylight. “Ah,” he said, “But the view at night is spectacular.” The gleam in his eye and the grin on his face told me he was not lying. I handed him the 3 coins and he took me to the top. I’ll admit it was a little creepy going up in the elevator and being on the rooftop by myself, but the view did not disappoint.

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He let me stay up longer than most people. And I swore I saw a few stars poke through the clouds. I felt as if I reached up on my tippy toes, I might just touch a cloud or a bit of Heaven. I wasn’t sure which.

I came back down, grabbed a sandwich from Pret a Manger, and hopped on the Tube back to the hostel. I don’t think anyone even noticed that I was gone.

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