Let me tell you a little bit about my little sister, Alicia. She is obsessed with everything London. The Siri voice on her phone has a British accent, she has numerous British flag paraphernalia, and even her phone keyboard is the British version. Because of her passion, Zach and I wanted to bring her along with us to London. She was also a fantastic travel companion! So Alicia got to spend three of the four wonderful weeks when we were in London with us. I was also excited because the last time I got to spend this much time with Alicia was when I was 19 and came home one summer for college – five years ago!
So, probably because it’s been awhile and Zach and I are not used to having to watch over someone, we may have had some bumps in the road. One of the bigger bumps, a moment that also had me utter the phrase, “We are SO not ready for children,” was when we lost Alicia on a bike ride through the city.
Some background first: Zach and I had phone plans over there, and Alicia did not. Also on this particular day, without my knowledge, Alicia’s phone, which at least had our UK numbers saved, was dead.
We had been biking for about 30 minutes so far. We were going from near Tower Bridge to St. James Park. It was in Trafalgar Square when the incident occurred. And if you don’t know the square it is “bloody” crowded with so many people and cars just everywhere. Zach crossed the street first, then I did, then it would have been Alicia, but, unaware to me, the light turned yellow right after I left. After about 200 yards, I turned to look back and I waited patiently like the trip had been going so far. Zach had kept going, but after awhile he came back and found me still staring at the same spot waiting for my little sister to emerge from the crowds. The thirty minutes I had waited was actually more like five, but the feeling of panic threw logic out the window.
Zach and I went back to where we had left her, went around the whole square, and I’m in denial, waiting for something, some sister telepathy to give me an idea of where she thought to go. National Museum of Art? It’s right there on the square and we’ve been there before. The tube? She knows how to get back to the hotel. A coffee shop? She said she needed to go to the bathroom.
All the while, we’re hauling around these massive bikes that suddenly become more cumbersome as I’m trying to walk it through people and be considerate of their feet, but also not really caring because I wanted my sister. Finally, about a true 30 minutes into this search, I’m so drained and so clueless and so angry at the world. I decided we just needed to find the closest bike hub and return the dang things. I was (literally) cursing the bikes and blaming them for this predicament. I was yelling at the world, very loudly. I hated London, bikes, people, and myself in those moments.
The bike hub place was quite a long walk through St. James Park. Within a minute of walking through, I hear my name called from across the street. And there was Alicia, dragging her bike as she walked, tears streaming down her face. As soon as I embraced her, all the anger vanished like I had never experienced before. It was a miracle we got reunited!
But it wasn’t all scary episodes. I just wanted to tell that story to show it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, though we did have that too!
Some of my favorite memories from London had little to do with London attractions and more to do with the company. Walking (very slowly) to Portobello Market so Alicia and Zach could play Pokémon Go and meeting strangers also playing! Running down the street singing songs Alicia and I made up with our arms linked together (and if you could believe we created a song about lemurs)! Watching as Alicia ordered 3 very large scoops of ice cream on a cone and then proceeding to drop one scoop as soon as she started walking (which sounds sad, but such a hilarious moment that makes me laugh even as I write this).
It was a new experience for Zach and I to travel with a third person and honestly we weren’t sure how it was going to go, but it, as we should have known, was one of the best decisions we made. It was really wonderful to have that time all together!