Saying goodbye tonight was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was one thing saying goodbye to the people I love back home knowing that I’d be seeing them again in just a few months. It is something completely different to be saying goodbye to the people I’ve been living with and partying with and spending late nights with and laughing with for the last four months knowing that it’s possible I may never see them again; or at least not for quite a long time.
This has been an incredible journey. The last four months have absolutely flown by, and the end of this trip has seemed to have snuck up on me. I cannot even begin to thank all of the people who have made this experience as amazing as it has been.
To my family, thank you so much for your support and love and for allowing me to make this trip. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love you and appreciate you for being with me throughout this 100% of the way. I love you so much, and I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.
To my friends back home, thanks for letting me know that even though I’ve been gone, I haven’t been forgotten. I can promise that you guys have been on my mind throughout the entire trip and I can’t wait to get back to make up for lost time.
To Chelsey Wieringa, thank you SO MUCH for coming to visit and helping to ground me in a time where I really needed a friend. You have no idea how much your visit over here helped me relax during a time when I was feeling so homesick for people I knew and loved that it actually hurt. You were a lifesaver girl, and I had a blast with you here.
To all of the amazing people I have met over the past four months, I am going to miss you so freaking much. When I came over here, I really didn’t think I was going to be getting as close to people as I have to you guys. I honestly didn’t think it would be this hard to leave you. You are the people who have made this trip worthwhile, and I will never forget a single one of you. Like I’ve said a million times, if you’re ever in Texas, you definitely have a place to stay.
This has been the most life-changing four months that I have ever experienced. I’ve grown in ways that I didn’t think possible, and I feel more sure about myself and the future than I ever have before. I feel so blessed to have been given this incredible opportunity, and I know it will not go to waste.
So to those at home, I’ll see you soon. And to those in London, I’ll see you again as soon as I possibly can. I promise, I’m gonna make it back. This city has not seen the last of me, nor I of it. I’ve never been happier living in any other city in my life, and I’m not going to ever forget that feeling.
I love you all. Thanks for the memories. :)
Time to pack. Again. Packing up a tiny room in london is just as frustrating as packing up a slightly larger room in fort worth. But as it gets closer and closer to Wednesday, I’m starting to think more about the things I’m excited about at home rather than the things I’m sad to leave here.
So many things have happened in my last week that have made me appreciate this country and my friends here. We took a day trip to Brighton a few days ago, and it was such a chill, relaxed, fun day that I’m glad I was here for. And of course, there was nothing like experiencing the Royal Wedding up close and personally. The energy in the air in London on that day was electric and totally contagious. And right now, I’m choosing to appreciate those days rather than wish I could stay for more. Because as much as I’d love remain here in London, I know that at some point life needs to move on. I’ve been on my break long enough, and it’s time to go back.
I know that in the past I’ve tended to create posts sort of lumping together a group of shows that I’ve seen, and even though I have seen several shows since my last theatre post, Frankenstein deserves its own. I cannot accurately or fully describe the brilliance that I saw on stage tonight (but I’m going to try anyways).
Everything about this show was incredible. The acting, directing, lighting design, sound design, set design, make-up design…good lord I could go on and on about each aspect of this show. It was apparent that so much thought had been put into each minute detail, and the pay-off was huge. I was only able to get a standing ticket for the show, but even standing behind the back row for the full two hours, I never left the world of the play. It had pulled me in from the very first second, and it never let me go.
The two actors playing The Creature and Dr. Frankenstein delivered such visceral, stunning performances. And what’s more, they both switch roles every other show. Each actor is responsible for being absolutely perfect at both parts. Tonight, I saw Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Dr. Frankenstein, both of whom gave brilliant performances. I’ve never seen anything like the way Cumberbatch fully embodied The Creature. He had fully and completely cast away any semblance of himself and, in every sense of the word, thrust himself into the body and mind of this character. The scenes between him and Miller as Frankenstein were so charged with emotion and tension as these two men both simultaneously fought each other and yet fully relied on the other’s response. It was an duet performance such as I have never seen on stage in any production ever in my life. This could only have come from having two actors who do play both roles and know both characters inside and out and thus know exactly what the other actor needs from them in these scenes.
At the same time, though, the actors were completely different and brought vastly different energies to their roles. Cumberbatch, the taller, thinner actor had a cool intellect behind his passion, and his madness seemed to stem from his inability to understand the world around him. Miller, the muscular, broader actor seemed to emanate power, and his weakness was in his inability to see the boundaries of that power. I can’t even begin to imagine what the show would be like with the roles reversed from what I saw tonight…which is why I’m planning on seeing it again in the one week I have left before I leave.
As stunning as the acting from the two leads was, it was clear that it was the product of brilliant directing. Danny Boyle created a show that dazzled and overwhelmed the audience with its spectacular lighting and mechanical, electronic sound design, but somehow it stayed put in the 19th century despite its contemporary influences. Furthermore, the way he highlighted the journey that The Creature takes from ignorance and blissful exploration of the world to knowledge and hatred of both his creator and those with whom he must share the world in which he was created brought a finality that comes with the end of the play (which does follow Mary Shelley’s book, not the many re-imaginings seen in movies) that was all the more moving knowing how much The Creature has changed from the beginning of the play to the end.
All in all, this was one of the most brilliant plays I have ever had the privilege to see. I can’t wait to see it again.
Wow. Where to even begin? I went to visit a city that I had been imagining my entire life and friends, it didn’t let me down. I was really nervous to go at first, as I was to spend the entire first day by myself and not meet up with my travel buddies until 7pm that night. A girl all alone in a foreign country where she knows no one and doesn’t speak the language…yeah, just a little nervous. So I woke up at the ass crack of dawn on Tuesday morning, caught a cab to St. Pancras, and got on the 5:25am train to Paris. I had spent the last three weeks thumbing through a French phrase books, so I had a few down that I thought I might need and ended up using a lot of them just to find out how to get to the station where my hotel was. I may have had a tiny panic attack in the metro trying to figure out which line was the one I needed to take (because all of the directions were in French, go figure) but after about 25 minutes I figured it out and was on my way to Joinville-le-Pont, the stop out in zone 3 near my hotel. Once I got there, however, I realized that none of the people in the information booth spoke English. Luckily the very VERY little French I knew included the words “left” and “right,” so eventually I figured it out. Friends, I cannot even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment I felt when I got to the hotel and checked in, knowing that I had found it by myself using a language I’d never spoken before. It was a pretty great feeling.
After that I basically just picked a stop that looked to be in the center of Paris and took the train back into the city. I had never been to Paris before and literally had no idea what all I should do on the day by myself, so I spent an hour and a half wandering around the area around Notre Dame and found a lot of really neat things. After that I decided just to do the safe, tourist thing and get on a hop on, hop off sight-seeing bus. Cue Chelsea spending four hours on the top of an open air bus seeing EVERYTHING in Paris and getting a brilliant sunburn from the 75 degree weather. This was the warmest weather I’ve been exposed to in MONTHS and I thought it was burning up. I’m pretty sure I’m literally going to just burst into flames when I get back to Texas where it’s 20 degrees warmer. But I digress. The tour bus was a great idea because I got to see a lot of the city in a relatively short amount of time, and I got a good idea of which places I wanted to go back to do some more exploring. Then I met the boys at the Eiffel Tower at 7pm and we went and had some wine at a cafe and eventually made it to the hotel by 10, at which point I took a shower and then passed the heck out. After going non-stop for 18 hours, I was exhausted.
Woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to take on the day and went to go see the beautiful Notre Dame. I was pleasantly surprised that it was free to go in and tour the inside of the building, and I didn’t really feel the need to pay to go up to the tower. I love old cathedrals and this one was gorgeous. The stained glass windows were breathtaking, and it just made me think of what a marvel old buildings like that are. They’re so resilient and beautiful and they were built hundreds of years ago before modern technology and construction equipment. Blows my mind. So after that we went and got crepes and coffee from a little hole in the wall shop and they were INCREDIBLE. Then we walked along the Seine until we got to the Musee d’Orsay and stood in line for an hour to get in. But let me tell you, it was worth it. Degas has been one of my favorite artists of all time ever since I was a kid growing up in dance studios with Degas prints all over the place, and seeing these pieces in person was amazing. Seeing his sculpture Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans literally gave me goosebumps. It was so incredible. Not to mention the plethora of other famous impressionist art that was at the museum. This place was pretty great. But after about an hour and a half the boys were getting hungry so we left to go get some baguettes from a bakery and some apples, cheese, lunch meat, and two bottles of wine from a shop and headed to a park to sit, lounge, eat, and drink for about two and a half hours. Even though I didn’t do some of the touristy things like climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I would’ve much rather sat in that park for as long as we did instead of standing in line for three hours for a five minute view. It was so relaxing and probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. The rest of the day we walked around, met up with some of Brian’s friends for falafel in the Jewish/Gay district of Paris (yeah, that one made me laugh, too), had some wine at a bar, and then went back to the hotel.
Day three began at 6:30 in the morning when we got up to get ready and check out of the hotel early enough to make it to the Louvre before the rest of the tourists in Paris did. We got there around 8:00 and were literally right in the front of the line. Unfortunately, we still had to wait around for an hour for the museum to open, so I ran across the street to order coffees (in French!) and came back so we could camp out for another 45 minutes. During which time, the USA show Covert Affairs filmed the actress walking towards the entrance to the Louvre while on her cell phone and looking back over her shoulder to see that she wasn’t followed about 15 different times. So hey, I might be in the background on a not-so-successful show! Cool.
The Louvre itself was amazing and overwhelming. We went to see the Mona Lisa to get that out of the way and seeing it in person wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but ah well. Then we walked around the rest of the museum for about two hours, taking in as much as we possibly could, before leaving to go get some lunch and head back to the Eiffel Tower for stereotypical touristy pics. We decided to just walk, thinking that it wouldn’t take that long. Oh ho ho, how wrong we were. My feet literally killed by the end of those three days. But it was nice to be out in the gorgeous weather seeing the gorgeous city covered in flowers that literally made the entirety of Paris smell beautiful, and after hanging out at the Eiffel Tower for a bit and buying souvenirs for my sisters, we got on the metro to head to the complete opposite side of the city to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery to see Oscar Wilde’s grave. This was honestly the thing I was most excited about doing in Paris. I may have carried around red lipstick in my purse throughout the entire trip just in preparation for this moment. The cemetery was gorgeous and seeing Oscar Wilde’s grave made me very very happy. We walked around for a bit, saw Chopin’s grave as well, and then headed back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and then go to the train station, where I said farewell to Paris.
The thing is though, as much as I loved that city, by the end of the last day I was very ready to get back to London. When I got to the station it was about ten degrees cooler and I thought, “Finally, some NORMAL weather.” I have grown to love this city so much. I can’t believe I’m leaving it in 12 days. If I was in freaking Paris and wanted to come back to London, how am I going to feel when I’m in Fort Worth?
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France