As Orlando comes up on the anniversary of the Pulse shooting, an event that shattered the hearts of so many in this city only to have us unify to piece those hearts back together through community and love, what’s happening in Manchester is eerily similar. I know how much you are all hurting right now, for those who died your lives were taken too soon, for those that survived the questions, pain and guilt of surviving is overwhelming and for the residents of the city you wonder how this could ever happen in your home.
Let me tell you this, your home will never be the same: don’t expect it to be. You will feel the aftershocks of this tragedy, emotionally, politically and literally for weeks and months to come. You will walk past that arena and feel your heart break all over again. You will see the world move on and feel angry that they do not feel the devastation you are feeling. Your city will forever be marked by this.
However, my dear Manchester – my dear mother country – remember this; because of this horror, you will become more capable of love, of compassion, of kindness and of connection then you ever thought possible.
You’re already doing it, with free taxis, hotels, homeless heroes, food and blood given to the recovering kids. But more than this when you see someone hurting you will be there. You will hug strangers and listen to their stories. You will pray and cry like you never have before. Your love, displayed in the smallest of actions, will silence the hate that was intended.
Remember those you lost. Love for them. Live to honour them. Everyday, take them with you and be the future that was taken from them.
You will never be the same. Orlando has never been the same, yet our community has never been stronger. I promise you will heal, you will grow and you will love. And as you do, those you lost will live on forever.
So a week ago I traveled from Orlando back to Asheville where I go to college and its official I am now very far away from England which is very hard for me since it had been such a long time since I’d been and spending the past six months there was in a word amazing. Therefore I decided for my own healing process (which I know sounds very silly but seriously leaving England was like being punched in the gut, repeatedly so there you go) I decided to list a few things I’m going to miss about my home country and hey next time you’re in the UK be sure to check these things out, apart from a few like you know my family ;p Anywho here we go
1) Transport/Ability to Travel
One of the great things about the UK is that its very easy to get around with the buses, trains and in places like London the underground. Its also very easy to get from city to city with services like National Express. Additionally its easy to get across Europe with cheap air services like Ryan Air and Easy Jet. Yes these aren’t the classiest services but they are cheap and get you where you need to go. I don’t think I appreciated it when I was a child because I had never known anything else up to that point but after living in America I’ve come to understand how unique Europe/the UK is in regards to traveling. In just a couple of hours you can go from one culture to a completely new one. That cannot happen in the states, yes you can go to different states with different twangs of culture but overall its still America.
So I am most certainly going to miss the ability to get around town and the UK without a car but more than that I’m going to miss having the ability to get on a coach or a plane and be somewhere entirely new in a few hours.
2) The Arts
Now to be fair everywhere as the arts you just have to go find them so in effect I’m not missing the arts being in the states but I have to go further out of my way to find them. In Leeds and London I would hop on a bus and be at an amazing art gallery/museum in twenty minutes. That isn’t quite as easy in that states unless you live in NYC or somewhere along those lines. I think its because as the USA as been built up there hasn’t been a lot of attention to the arts building along with it. So this is more of a resolution that something I will miss, I have to resolve to seek out the art in my own are and go revel in it. But I will miss the National Gallery in London with all my heart, that is perhaps my favorite place in the world, well maybe not my favorite but most certainly it makes the top five.
3) The Food
I don’t care what anyone says, I love English food. Now I must say if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan England most likely isn’t the country for you as most of the ‘specialites’ are based around meat and or fish. However if you’re like me and a carnivore then its perfect.
English breakfast, scotch eggs, pork pies, cornish pasties, sausage rolls, fish and chips etc are all English specialities that are amazing, if you’re a cornivore. However the deserts are pretty good too, yes they are no where as good as the French pastries but hey we have scones, battenburg and more. Plus we have afternoon tea and when afternoon tea is done right with a steaming pot of ENGLISH tea, scones with clotted cream and various jams, plus cucumber sandwiches and afternoon cakes it is pure perfection. A proper English afternoon tea is something everyone must experience and if you’re going to England, shell out the twenty pounds at a tea house and get yourself the real deal, its totally worth it. I’m going to miss English food dearly and I will have to do my best to make English things with American ingredients.
4) The Humility
So this year the UK finally got to toot their own horn with the Olympics but overall the UK especially England is a very reserved nation. English people generally don’t go over the top and don’t make a whole bunch of noise like other countries I know. After being in the states for almost eight years it was lovely to be in a country while there was a quiet strength. A strength that was humble and didn’t feel the need to shove it in everyone’s face every two seconds.
A nation that had at one point been the largest empire in the world and had lost that power. Losing that power has made the UK a little less all up in your face but the past is still there. The feats the British Empire once accomplished were greater than any other empire and still for the size of the nation, an island with 60 million people, the UK and England has enormous influence in the world yet most of the time there is no cockiness to it. I enjoyed being around that.
5) My Family
So this one is simple, before being back in the UK I hadn’t seen a majority of my family, both blood related and not for six plus years so it was amazing to be able to spend time with my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and my closest friends from the UK. All I can hope is I can see them all again soon.
6) TV/Clever Comedy
So, America does a certain style of comedy well, slapstick and while there are some clever comedy shows (oh and America kills at sitcom’s. England doesn’t do sitcoms which made me sad) all in all it generally focuses on slapstick whereas the UK focuses on Satire, especially political satire. Which I adored the entire time I was in England. Shows like Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You, 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You made my life.
Additionally the BBC is amazing and totally worth the cost of a TV license. Its such good, educational program. I learnt more from a few months of watching BBC documentries than I have the entire time I’ve been watching American TV. But anywho just to show you how great shows like Mock the Week are here is one of my favourite episodes of the show. Warning it does contain language
So that’s just a short list of the things I will miss about England and don’t get me wrong I’m very blessed to be in the States and for all the opportunities I have here but I will always be through and through English and as such I will also miss and be proud of England.
Until next time be blessed, stay strong and never give up,