By Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)
I stepped out of the plane into London Gatwick airport. Jet lag already beginning to set in, I reached for my passport and official-sounding-but-not-actually-crucial Letter of Introduction, letting the friendly customs agent know that I was entering the UK as a student, that my school vouched for me, and for international border purposes I was totally cool.
This was me, 20 years old, headed towards a semester in London as an intern at a small travel-focused PR agency and part-time student. It was going to be my first time out of the half-step into adulthood known as a dorm, where after a long day’s work and walk to and from the office, I’d need to rustle up a dinner on about a £1.50 per day budget (approximately $0.00 USD, depending on the conversion rate). Needless to say I was destined for about a 30-pound weight loss.
But I was also headed for adventure. Learning. Travel. I had rough sketches of how to potentially get from remote Scotland to Israel over the course of three months, and the willingness to starve in order to see as much of it as I could.
A coffee and express train later I was queued up for a taxi – one of the last I’d be able to afford – to get me to the classroom space my classmates and I would be staying in. We’d all met a few times at orientation meetings, but outside of a few pockets of friends travelling together, we were largely strangers to one another.
I arrived, two blocks from the British Museum, and checked in with the school. I started hauling 50 pounds of clothes and necessities on the 10-minute walk to our apartments, crossing small private parks, Charles Dickenson’s house, and old med school buildings as the already cooling late August air added even more of a spring to my walk. There was a lot to anticipate, both what I could see coming and what I couldn’t.
One of those things I couldn’t see coming was waiting at the end of that walk.
Standing on the stoop of our flats, with her roommate – a fellow marching bandmate of mine from TCU – was a girl.
Light, freckled Irish skin, dark hair at her shoulders, leather jacket, dazzling smile.
A lot of people will tell you the lightning bolt doesn’t exist. For the most part, I’d probably tell you the same, even after 15 years of being together and benefitting greatly from it. It’s not how life works. It can’t be. No science or logic to it.
But as I walked up to the stoop, ready to learn that her name was Kristi, I was struck as struck could be. I found myself needing to remind myself to breathe, while my mind only permitted one thought, two little syllables, until she said hello:
A few moments later we knew each other’s names. A week later we’d already travelled together. A month later we were dating, and a decade and a half later we’re still strong. No telling what landmarks we’ll be able to point to another 15 years from now, but they all started with that moment, that thought, those words.