Taking Off

Posted on September 25th, 2012 by

I’ve spent the last several days in a bit of a disbelieving haze, unwilling (perhaps unable?) to admit to myself that yes: I’m leaving. I’m taking a plane to Toronto and then another one across the Atlantic Ocean. I’m leaving. I’m going to study literature at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. I’m leaving.

Well, I left.

Now I’m sitting in the Toronto airport enjoying a four-hour layover after an epic battle with baggage collection (or lack-there-of) and holding up the luggage line because I somehow forgot my shoes needed to come off. My mother used to say I was book smart but when it came to common sense I was dumb as a box of rocks. She was kidding (I think), but sometimes I’m not quite so sure. Don’t worry; everything is fine. Let’s just say:

Lesson One: If something seems shady, ask questions first and wait around for someone to come to you later.

Toronto Airport: 1
Julia: 0

It’s alright, though. I decided a long time ago that this is going to be an adventure, which means that I don’t (and won’t) have all of the answers. Sometimes I’ll be able to fake it, but many times I am going to have to accept looking as dumb as a box of rocks and I think that’s okay. It’s worth it to be able to experience life and the world in these new and dramatically different ways.

For example: today I flew alone for the first time, and it was easily one of the most incredible things I’ve done thus far.

At first, I was nervous. I had to wait around for a few hours before we could board the plane, and every moment I could feel myself getting a little bit more anxious. Thank heavens for Tai Chi; I have never before been so happy to utilize my awesome steady-breathing skills.

Then I boarded the plane (still nauseous and nervous). I was sitting alone by a window watching the flight attendant (and praying nobody would take the open seat) when I started thinking about my late great grandmother. I had tucked away her European travel journals for encouragement, and I’m so glad that I did. You see, my great grandma loved being in planes. They made her feel like she was actually flying.

A sort of peace settled over me as I contemplated this idea. You’re on an adventure, I reminded myself. What better time than this to try to fly?

It was then that I learned just how good it feels to fly. I felt like a child, eyes glued to the window, drinking in the world around me. I marveled at the cars as they transformed from vehicles to grains of rice to indistinguishable particles of dust, conduits for the glistening sunshine. I watched forests transform into tufts of grass and buildings become playthings and wondered if birds feel bold and large and proud as they look down their beaks at small people below. I felt bold and large and proud, and then I felt small and insignificant, and then I felt part of something bigger as the landscape blended together beneath me. I thought about how roads connect and how they divide, about what the world used to look like from above, about what it means to be able to fly like this. I cherished the time I had alone with my own thoughts and I felt greedy missing the hours slipping steadily out from between my fingers as I travelled through time [zones] into some sort of future and into the adventure of a lifetime, and it was absolute bliss.

So, I left. I got on a plane and went to Toronto and I flew. In an hour I’ll be on my way to London, and I’ll have a whole slew of adventures to look forward to. For that, I am extremely grateful.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a splendid semester, and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!

Best wishes,




  1. Jill Fischer says:

    love this entry, Julia. You are a fine writer and I look forward to reading more!

  2. Joanne Flint says:

    I love you, Honey!!!! So proud and excited for you. Cant wait for your next entry. Love you,Grandma JO