Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Visiting the Tudors

It's official, I'm in love with England. And I think it's mutual! I had a feeling that this would be a life changing two weeks. It remains to be seen whether it was a wise use of my time and savings but it was, without a doubt, the wisest thing I could ever do for my psyche. I came home new woman. Hell, by day six in the UK I was a new woman! The impression left was deep and special and I venture a guess that it will be long lasting.

The trip did not start off well. Despite my extensive preparation, by the time I got into the very long security line at Dulles Airport, I realized - in horror - that I'd left my iPhone on the shuttle van. There was little I could do. The shuttle company refused to bring me the phone and I would have to call them back - from London - to arrange for them to mail it to me. The food on the flight was hideous and although I took a Tylenol PM, I couldn't seem to sleep. I refused to be dragged down by any of this...
Thankfully, I got myself from Heathrow to my hotel on the Underground with minimal difficulty. I immediately took a two hour nap and set out to my first destination: meet a high school friend for dinner. Once again, I used the tube with no problems and we enjoyed dinner and wine at a tapas restaurant near Carnaby Street in Soho. I was still not fully aware that I was in England yet. It didn't really hit me until the next day.

Tuesday, May 19th is the anniversary of the beheading of Anne Boleyn so I planned my visit to the Tower of London to pay my respects. Upon walking through the gates, what I felt is very hard to explain.
Within minutes, I was in tears; overwhelmed by the immense sense of the history there. I felt them: all the souls who were imprisoned, tortured, executed, and even those who lived there in the palace just before their coronations.

I always knew I'd feel something but this really caught me off-guard. I was fighting tears all day. I realize that this may seem quite ridiculous to people who read this but have no "feelings" about history. I had the same reaction on my first visit to Washington, DC, when I converted to Judaism and watching Natalie Dormer's portrayal of Anne Boleyn's final speech on the scaffold. Certain parts of history feel very personal to me.

Despite the mixture of heavy rain and then bright sunshine, I spent nearly four hours walking around the Tower and absorbing the intense vibes (and sometimes ducking into a nook to stay dry). I took a million pictures and said a silent prayer to and for Anne Boleyn. My only regret is that I missed the "official" tour with a Yeoman, and that was the only way you could enter the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where Anne is buried. It is just a tile that marks this place, but I wanted to see it.

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