London is my favorite city in the world. “Crafty Chica and London?”
Yup! It is my favorite city! I owe it all to a girl named Marcy and here’s why…
The first time I went, I was 17 and had just graduated high school. I grew up in a very traditional and conservative Mexican-American familia, we never went on trips like that. (Later I would find out that my dad traveled Europe as a teen) I couldn’t picture myself, I had no idea what to expect. I loved English music and that was my main draw. I worked at Jack in the Box and saved every penny even though I felt unsure. I felt silly for signing up, and terrified that my parents not only encouraged me, but also paid for half my trip. I almost cancelled, but my journalism teacher (our tour guide) convinced me otherwise. She looked me square in the eyes and told me it would change my life and I would thank her later. She promised me that her teen daughter, Marcy, would be my roommate and take care of me. Marcy, a few years younger than me, was petite, had beautiful hair and a very chic indie style about her. I was an insecure chubby chica with hair that wouldn’t feather!
However, Marcy made me feel like I was just like her. She literally held my hand when we landed in Heathrow Airport because I wanted to cry because I was already homesick! But once I stepped foot on a London street, I gasped. It was unlike any place I had ever been. I wanted to soak it all up!
Marcy, an expert traveler, led me all over the city. She forced me to break out of my comfort zone. We chased eachother all over Hyde Park until we ran out of breath, we visited museums, she gave me mini-history lessons, told me ghost stories at night in the hotel room, we ate weird food, and tried on funky hats and punk clothes on Carnaby Street. Sounds like it was straight from a chick flick!
At that point in my life, I didn’t even eat Mexican food because it was too exotic for me. My parents used to make hamburgers for me when they made enchiladas or tacos for dinner. Marcy would not have any of that! She was 1/4 my size, but I was scared of her, lol! She kept me in check to go out on a limb at every opportunity. My favorite memory was when we went to a Middle Eastern restaurant and she made me eat falafels. The concept of chick peas sound gross to me. I tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t let me. I ended up loving them!!! At one point, I asked the waiter for milk, and she laughed really hard.
“Bring her milk!” she said to the waiter. He shrugged, totally confused. “MILK!” she said.
“Milk?” he answered, as if we were asking for an exotic fur trimmed in gold.
He returned with a glass of thick, frothy warm goat milk. “Here you go – Milk!”
I flinched. Apparently in that part of London, people didn’t order a glass of milk with their falafels. Marcy made me try a sip, just so I could go home and say I drank goat milk.
That trip changed my life. I returned a new person. Energized. Reformulated. My style changed, my way of thinking changed, my view on food changed. Well, except I still didn’t want to eat my dad’s enchiladas.
I saved up and went back a three years later, not only to England, but all over Europe for a month! It was a college tour and my younger cousin went with me. It changed her life too, it felt good to pay it forward.
After I got married in 1990 and we went on to have two kids, Patrick and I barely made enough money to pay the bills. I thought I would never make it back to London. I often dreamed about my first trip and longed to relive it. It seemed surreal. I needed to be reminded that it really happened. I wanted to get in touch with Marcy to catch up. I found out that she had just passed away from a horrible car accident. I cried so hard at the news. It felt like the magic of that first trip died too.
When the time came around for our 10th wedding anniversary, Patrick suggested we go to London and Paris. And we did. The magic came back!
To this very day, every time I eat a falafel or think about London, I think of Marcy, and the joy she brought and taught me, and it makes me happy. I’ve been thinking abouther lately since I’ve been planning this trip. Marcy’s mom, my former high school journalism teacher, has a blog dedicated to her and even wrote a book. Here is the link!
Patrick and I just celebrated our 21 anniversary and decided to return. Except this time are bringing 40 friends!Love & light,