This blog post is dedicated to the second great love of my life, a lab/pit/who-knows-what mix named Charli who NEVER met a stranger in her 13.5 years of life, and who always had a cuddle for anyone who walked through my front door or passed her on the street. Saying goodbye during my brief trip back home in Missouri was painful, but I am truly blessed to have had her, and to have been the recipient of her unconditional love and loyalty, in my life for almost 13 years. (The first great love of my life was my first dog, Cherokee. Yes, the great loves of my life have been dogs, not men. And I wish everyone reading this the good fortune to experience such a relationship.) My dogs touched so many people and I’m missing photos from so many of their human and fur friends, but the love so many had for her is so obvious from the photo collage below. And that warms my heart.
My next adventure began on 15 August with a two hour trip to the airport in STL, then a quick flight up to Chicago. I arrived in the morning and had intentionally booked my flight to London for that night, so I could spend the day in Chicago with my brothers from another mother, Adam and Sean. Some family you’re born into, some you are blessed enough to gain. The guys took time off work and drove to Chicago from Indiana to spend the day with me. Totally made it worth taking a late flight to London (late, which became a VERY late flight because Chicago O’Hare Airport may be the worst airport in the world… I’ve lost count of how many flights I’ve had delayed or cancelled from ORD… I advise avoiding this airport at all costs). I spent a full day laughing and soaking up the love from these men, who I cherish. Not many people make me feel this loved all the time, which is exactly the kind of energy I needed around me after the last couple of weeks.
Brief interruption for mobile plan advice when traveling abroad: There are no US mobile phone plans that are an affordable alternative to use when traveling abroad for a long period of time. If you only travel abroad occasionally, or spend less than 50% of your time (= data and texting usage) in a month abroad, then T-Mobile offers the best plan. Their international plan includes data and texting (but no phone calls) while abroad, at no additional cost. Verizon and AT&T require you to purchase additional abroad packages on top of your monthly plan, which are more expensive. The best option: buy local SIM cards when abroad. If you want to preserve your US phone number, add yourself onto a family or friend’s plan, which can cost as little as $20/month.
Now back to travel talk…
After a fun day of errands but mostly goofing around (and really good margaritas!), and a delayed flight, I made it to London in the afternoon of 16 August. This time I had the good fortune to stay with Ameila and her fabulous family (hubby Dean and son Wyatt). I only spent one year at Tulane law school but that year was responsible for some brilliant friendships to this day, including Amelia’s ex-boyfriend (which is how I am blessed to have Amelia in my life!) and ANNIE (!!) who I also got to hang out with while in London. Plus, thanks to the friends of friends network I met Jean Marc (a friend of a friend), a Canadian embarking on his own adventures abroad! Also caught up with a former colleague and friend Aymen, and met some fabulous new folks thanks to Amelia and Dean. Ate some great food (I especially recommend Mildred’s for PHENOMENAL vegetarian food and El Camion for great Mexican), hit up some fabulous bars (Cafe Boheme; The Pink Chihuahua, which is conveniently located downstairs from El Camion; and Molly Moggs, which has super fun drag shows with live singing, not just lip syncing!), and enjoyed a late night dance party at Little Italy in SoHo. Fitzrovia and SoHo are great places to pass the time while in London, I highly recommend these neighborhoods! Also, London is a great city to fly into if you want to break up much longer trips abroad. Flying 7 to 8 hours and resting for a couple of days, then flying another 7 to 8 hours is much easier on the body than doing it all at once.