As many of you know, Hannah and I spent our last week abroad in London before returning to the U.S. for the summer. It was supposed to be a week filled with last minute sightseeing and relaxing, but instead it became the week from hell. We had to be out of our other hellhole, Alywn West, by Saturday afternoon and we spent our last days in Winchester packing, well, I did. Hannah decided it was an appropriate time to get some sort of mystery flu on Thursday and spent the remainder of our time in Winchester in bed. It was awesome!
She mustered the strength to walk to the bus station Saturday afternoon and we arrived in London early evening. When we got off the bus, it was clear that Hannah was only days from death, yet I decided that we had to charge on towards the London Victoria Underground Station. Complicating our young struggle was our luggage, 3 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 2 purses that collectively easily weighed easily 500 pounds. Ok, maybe 200. The station was only a few blocks away but it took us almost 20 minutes…struggle. For some unknown reason, Hannah was 5 or so steps in front of me for our walk, only looking back for directions and the occasional look of death.
I will never forget the look on Hannah’s face when we finally arrived at that God forsaken station. It was a combination of fright, anger, disappoint and defeat. The next thing I know, she turns to me and says “I can’t, I will pay for a taxi. I can’t do it” and then she started to cry. After I stopped to catch my breath, and laugh just a bit, I looked down the entrance of the underground and saw about a billion steps, I understood. Now, it might seem mean that I laughed at her, but at the time it was extremely hilarious, maybe you had to be there, but you should be glad you weren’t.
Equally as funny as Hannah’s emotional outburst is the conversation we shared in the cab.
“Hannah, are you ok?”
“I can’t, this week is so dumb”
“What are we going to do? I know, we will get on standby and be home by Monday morning!”
“Monday!? I can’t wait until Monday! I have to go home now! We will just call my mom and we will go home.”
“Ok, great plan”
Shortly after we arrived at our hostel, which happened to be on the second floor of a building whose first floor housed a pub.
We ordered a drink, connected to wi-fi, our best friend this semester, and called our parents.
About an hour later we checked in to our hostel and settled in for the week.
Earlier that week, we had hatched a plan for our visit to Westminster abbey. Being the sneaky college-tourists we are, we decided to go to a service at Westminster Abbey Sunday morning and avoid the entrance fee. Sadly, Hannah didn’t quite make it to church after she spent the night coughing, and making a sound similar to that of someone who was trying to cough up a lung. It was great. At this point she had also began to lose her voice and we were both worried.
So, Sunday morning I got up and went to church, partly to see the Abbey and partly to escape the cough while Hannah stayed at the hostel. I returned that afternoon with lunch only to find Hannah in the same position as when I had left her hours before. Later that afternoon I went down to reception and got us moved into a private room, to spare the other people that were in our room another night of listening to young Hannah hack up a lung and got a suggestion for a doctor’s office a couple of blocks away.
Monday morning we headed in the general direction of the office, about a ten minute walk according to the receptionist at the hostel. Keeping up with me was the biggest struggle for young Hannah who already walks at a rather lethargic pace compared to me. I did my best at walking as slow as possible, but Hannah managed to stay about 10 steps back wandering around, ready to fall over at any time.
Thanks be to God, we made it to the office and, of course, the doctor was at some training for the morning and wouldn’t be able to see her until the afternoon. We went to a Starbucks to call her mom, which was quite a sight and after only 10 seconds on the phone, Hannah handed me the phone, sad as could be, saying “you talk to her, she can’t understand me.” After a quick conversation with the always delightful Susie Morningstar, we left the Starbucks and made our way to somewhere a bit quieter to wait for the doctor.
Sidenote: this was also the time we heard that Baroness Thatcher had died!
After a quick visit and some antibiotics Hannah and I headed to a drug store for water and sick people supplies and then back to the hostel. It was about this time that Hannah and I realized that her getting sick had prevented us from fighting with each other non-stop. It’s ok, we know we are ridiculous and that some people were worried about us spending the week together, we were worried too.
After another delightful conversation with Hannah’s mom, I made my way to the local pharmacy to get some cough medicine that would hopefully help Hannah (and me) sleep that night. Hannah’s mom was adamant that I needed to get something with codeine, but when I asked the pharmacist, who spoke little English, if she had anything of the sort, she replied very sternly by saying “no! Codeine not good! Take this, no codeine, but very good!” and then moved on to the next customer.
Tuesday we had planned on taking a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover, but there was no way young Hahn would make it. So, Hannah stayed at the hostel and I made my way to the cliffs for the day. It was an extremely beautiful site and since young Hahn couldn’t make it I brought her back a little piece of the white cliffs, a small token for her day in bed.
When I got back Tuesday night, we met “the Germans.” Seven incredibly loud, smelly and overall rude German men invaded our hostel room. Even though there was a no alcohol policy, and they knew that we obviously wanted to go to bed, they thought it was appropriate to pre-drink the night away…in our room. They let us know that when they would come back for the night, probably around 4 in the morning, they would be loud and wake us up, and that they hoped it would be ok. They were right, at 4 am they came in loud as could be, turned on the lights and continued to banter in German until I had had enough. After some choice words, the lights were finally turned off and they began to settle into their beds, only to wake up again around 8 for breakfast, at which point I asked “How are you not hungover and asleep?” No reply, at least not in English. Wednesday morning we ventured out to the city to see the National Portrait Gallery, Hannah’s new favorite café, Pret A Manger and Harrods, but not before stopping at the front desk to inform them of the hooligans in our room and ask for a change.
Alert the media! Hannah made it a full 6 hours out with the general public before returning to our hostel for an afternoon nap. Luckily, she was feeling much better, probably because of the Pret A Manger, and my delightful company, I’m sure. After dinner at, you guessed it, Pret, we settled in for the night.
Thursday morning we headed to Newbury to see DOWNTON ABBEY! I COULD NOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT!!! It was the best place on earth. Wow wow wee wow! We came, we saw, we conquered and we were changed forever! And now we really can’t wait for the Season 4 premiere!
At the beginning of the week we had decided that if we made it to the end of the week, we would treat ourselves to Chipotle Thursday afternoon, and that’s exactly what we did. In typical Hahn and Greer fashion we bickered the entire way to the Chipotle over the correct way to get there along with other completely obscure things and after arriving at the glorious chipotle, we ate, we drank and we were merry. Not only for the Chipotle, but because we were going home the next day!
5am Friday morning we leaped out of bed, knowing that we would be in our own beds that night, checked out and made our way to the train station. We got to Heathrow, paid our overweight baggage fees and awaited our flight to paradise…the United States!
Being in such close proximity for 8 hours was a recipe for stupid fights and we sure had them, but what else is new. Around 2pm we landed at the Raleigh-Durham airports and made our way through customs. Now, here comes the part of our story that gets a bit sad. Once we made it through customs, there were nice, old men there to help us get to our connection. Sadly our flights were in different terminals and all of a sudden we were being pulled away, leading to the saddest goodbye in history. We didn’t get a change to have one more fight, or to laugh at ourselves for our fight, but only to say “goodbye, see you in August!” and then we parted our separate ways.
Hannah and I both made it home that night and had never been more thankful to have survived the semester and more importantly the week. Maybe God was looking out for our general well-being by making Hahn sick because He knew the fighting that would ensue, or maybe it was just a coincidence, but either way, we both survived and that’s all that matters.