Sunday, November 25, 2018
Perhaps it was overly ambitious to think I’d spend my time in Sheringham writing. It’s been a busy year, to say the least. Actually, the last five years have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve desperately needed some downtime. Case in point: my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 was to chill the f*ck out. I failed by epic proportions. This year has been anything but chill – it’s been a year of growth and change and progress, but nothing about it has been “chill.”
Now that I’m here in East Anglia, my body wants to sleep. I’ve been sleeping between 9 and 11 hours a day. Every day. Yes, you could say that I’m tired. Yesterday I woke past noon and begrudgingly dragged myself down to the water to enjoy what little daylight was left. Instead of walking the coastal trail as I’d done each day prior, I walked along the shore – my boots in the sand and stone. And it was gorgeous. Absolutely breathtaking! The tide was rising, but I couldn’t stop walking.
Rather than get stranded on the beach (on a particularly chilly day), I stopped an older couple as they passed by and asked if there was a way to access the coastal trail from the beach. This way, if the tide got too high, I’d have a safe way out. Luckily, the man and woman were extremely friendly and confirmed that yes, there was in fact a pathway to the trail, which incidentally was not far off from where we were.
I made my way along the shoreline and eventually crossed a long stretch of stones to reach the coastal trail. It was a brisk, but beautiful walk back to town. Out of town by sand and stone, and back into town by a winding trail along the cliffs. To call it picturesque is an understatement. As I exited the trail, I was surprised to see the couple I’d met earlier on the beach heading toward me. They waved hello and stopped me for a chat. Not only had my American accent given me away, but they could tell I was traveling solo and kindly invited me to join them the following day for their weekly walk into a neighboring town. We decided to meet at their house at 10AM the following morning.
* * * * *
This morning I set an alarm. Since I’ve been binge-sleeping, I didn’t want to risk missing our 10AM start time. Arriving promptly at 10, I rang the doorbell and was quickly greeted by Susan. She brought me into their home, introduced me to their sleek Tonkinese cats, and escorted me over to a table containing a map of the area. Prior to my arrival, she’d mapped out areas of East Anglia I might want to explore. Not only did she show me each location on the official map, but she’d hand written (drawn) a map on a full-size piece of paper for me to keep – with details including bus routes, restaurant recommendations, and inside-tips only a local could provide.
This. This is the magic of travel. This is the warmth and kindness I didn’t even realize was missing in my life.
After a cup of delicious pour over coffee, we bundled up and began our trek to Waybourne. We discussed politics: what it’s been like in the US with Trump as president, and what it’s been like in the UK after the Brexit vote. We discussed careers. Travel. Food. Pets. Architecture. Death. Grieving. Creativity. Art. Psychology. Somehow, as if by magic, no topics were off limit. Maybe it’s because I’m just passing through town or maybe we realized that we’re kindred spirits. Susan and Trevor have a subtle joie de vivre. The kind of joy that’s tinged by sorrow – much like myself. The soft smile of someone who appreciates the beauty of life, because they know how hard it can be. They’ve lived it. And yet they – we – choose to stay soft and loving.
You’d think by now I’d get used to the ways of the Universe. That I wouldn’t be surprised by the people that “just happen” to cross your path at exactly the right time, right when you need them the most. And yet, I’m still amazed. Still grateful at the magic that draws such people near. I am so grateful for fated friends, tucked in all corners of the globe, waiting to be discovered. I only hope I offered them an ounce of the inspiration and kindness they bestowed upon me.
To be continued… Part 3.
P.S. Here’s Part 1. Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter. Enjoy!