In the yellowish, orange world outside my window, rays of sun seep through the trees’ bare branches. It’s 4:00 P.M., and I have two more hours on this train.
On the weekend’s agenda: England. A place I hold near and dear to my heart. A place I haven’t seen since 2012, back when I studied at the University of Cambridge. I’ve been dreaming of the day I would return – and that day has finally arrived. That day is now.
So much has happened since I left on that cool summer’s day: I’ve grown older, wiser, stronger. I’ve been on top of the world and at rock bottom. And now I’m here. Going back again, to revisit my most sacred memories. I wonder what will come back and what will simply just fade away. Funny how memories can do that.
I’ll go back and see where I fell in love. Not necessarily with a boy, but with an experience. Back where my mind was expanded by my close friends from almost every corner of the world. Like Nikki, from Dubai. And Puja. Well Puja, she’s a little more complicated. She was born in New Zealand and has lived in Singapore, Australia, and Mumbai since then. And they are just two examples. Needless to say, I’ve learned quite a lot from all of them.
Cambridge was, and still is, somewhere I consider home; it’s my happy place. A place where I feel as though almost nothing can go wrong.
Getting off the plane to go meet Nikki and Puja, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. After all, I haven’t seen these girls in four years. Things could have changed. But they didn’t--not at all.
It was still the same; just as vibrant and wonderful as when I left it. In that split second of seeing them after so long, the sheer joy in all our faces, oh, it just doesn’t get much better than that, my friend. It just doesn’t. Within seconds of finding each other from across the room, Nikki sprinted across the square and fell directly into my tired arms. That moment was better than I imagined, and trust me, I’m quite the fantasizer. They even brought me a hot chocolate– just because they remembered I loved it. And in that moment I knew I had one heck of a weekend ahead of me.
And I sure did.
We sat speechless with a mixture of pure bliss and disbelief as we headed home to Nikki’s. Were we really all sitting across from each other in real life? Was this really happening? Were we really going back to Cambridge tomorrow? Yes. It was real this time.
Though it was difficult to not talk all night, we fell asleep and woke up to a morning where Cambridge was on the agenda. BEST DAY EVER.
So we made our way over to the train station and ordered breakfast; we realized too late, however, that they were too slow. It was taking years to prepare our simple order of an egg and bacon biscuit…and we had exactly 1 minute til' take off. Shit...
So there I was, running, yet again to another train. We somehow made it, don’t ask me how. And just like that, we were off. Off to our past and future all at the same time. It was a 3 hour journey, but the time flew effortlessly. The three of us ad a lot to catch up on. We caught up on life and school and parents and boys and siblings and futures and fears and accomplishments. How much has changed since we were last together. Yet ah, how much was the same.
Cambridge was exactly how we left it. The college, the crepe stand, coffee shops, tea spots, the scenery, all of it. And it was incredible. The memories flowed back to us all. Do you remember that time when….
We laughed, reminisced and made new memories all at the same time.
Going back to where we used to live, at Jesus College, was quite the trip down memory lane.
I think Nikki’s reaction says it all…
So many memories on that quad. In those rooms. In that town.
Amongst some of the best memories, is this:
Ah yes, Cambridge Crepes. But you see, this is no ordinary crepe stand–or crepe alone for that matter. This crepe stand was the epitome of my existence four years ago. The food at the college, in a typical English fashion, well, sucked. Atrociously awful. So, what did 17-year-old Lauren do? She went to see her good old friend John, the crepe man–EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
There was just something about these crepes. I haven’t had one as good ever since. Until now, when I returned, of course. And the best part was…. there was John. Right where I left him. Making the best crepes this world has ever known.
And you know what?
He remembered us.
He seriously remembered us. We came up to the light blue stand, sitting quietly in the exact same spot, and smiled. After a few seconds of staring, AH YES! HELLO! YOU’RE BACK! From Cambridge 2012?!!
Don’t believe me?
How he remembered the date is beyond me. But the fact that he did made us all smile. Clearly, we had made just as much of an impact on him as he had made on us. We chatted and caught up while he made our favorite flat pancakes stuffed with whatever delicacies we desired; my heart was happy.
Speaking of making my heart happy… our next stop did just the same.
Clowns. Yes, the coffee shop is called Clowns, and like the Cambridge Crepe stand, we ventured out to this little hole in the wall cafe just about every other day. Our favorite? Their hot chocolate. With the smoothest, creamiest whipped cream you’ve ever tasted spiraling on top of the warm, tasty chocolate.
Once again, I think Nikki’s face says it all…
Next on our list, King’s College.
A place of such beauty and grace within the old college town. It’s in the city’s heart, for King’s College is one of Cambridge’s most iconic sites.
Our memories continued to flow, as did our conversations, until we eventually decided to continue our nostalgic food tour of Cambridge.
This time, it was Auntie’s Tea Shop.
A classic English tradition, we just couldn’t pass it up on while being there. On the menu today: scones with jam and cream as well as English Breakfast Tea with cream and sugar. Exactly as I ordered it four years ago.
After walking around a bit more and expLauren, it was time to say goodbye to Cambridge once again.
And helloooooo to London!
If you’ve never been on the Tube, here’s what the experience is like:
Then we found this cool viewpoint:
Though I had been in London once before, I had yet to see one of its most famous sites: Buckingham Palace. So that’s exactly what we did next.
For as much of an England supporter as I am, to be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed with the whole thing. I mean, it was beautiful don’t get me wrong….
But I couldn’t help thinking just how worn and dreary it seemed to look; maybe it was just a bad hair day for the Palace?
Did I mention it was raining all day? Typical. Oh and harsh winds. So harsh and cold to the point where we had to constantly pop into coffee shops just to stay warm and defrost.
But it was fun nonetheless. And definitely worth the trip out there.
One of my favorite parts actually, was rather unexpected: China Town. We had come right at the time of the Chinese New Year, so the place was decorated to the nines.
Absolutely stunning. If it wasn’t so blistering cold and borderline miserable, I think we would have stayed longer. But you can only handle so much.
A quick trip to Nando’s later, we decided to hop on the next train home.
And just like that, my weekend had come to a close.
Saying goodbye to Nikki and Puja that next morning was, well.. insanely difficult.
Until next time, ladies. Thanks for everything <3
a bittersweet Lauren