A few weeks ago, shortly before I left for Key West, my purse was stolen from my father’s locked car. As the weather was considerably warmer than it had been in weeks, my father and I traveled to Columbia to go walking along the Patuxent Branch Trail. I used to go running 2-3 times a week along the trail and so thought nothing of locking my purse in the trunk. We were only gone for about 40 minutes, but when I returned my purse had disappeared. The trunk was still locked, but the purse was gone, leading to a good five minutes where I seriously debated my sanity. (Had I locked the purse in the trunk? Did I just imagine it?)
The next hour passed in a haze as I cancelled my US and UK debit/credit cards (what a hassle!) and waited for the police to show up. The officer was very helpful, but said not to hold out much hope that my purse would ever be found. Aside from the bank cards, it had contained several sentimental items, my car keys, and digital camera. I was pissed off, of course, but definitely more shaken than angry. The knowledge that someone now knew my name and address was far more unsettling than any threat of card fraud.
Fast forward to last week. I was unable to sleep and happened to check my blog email account – a rarity since I literally receive 3 emails in a six month period. Braced to deal with the normal spam emails, I instead found an email from a man who had found my purse whilst geocaching in Columbia. He had looked through the contents, found my name, and run a Google search, which had led him to this blog. He then reached out in an attempt to return the purse to me.
I got the purse back tonight. The only things missing are my US debit and credit cards (completely expected). The camera had gotten waterlogged and all paper items had gone bit moldy, but everything else was intact. From a cost-benefit perspective, the thief lost more than he gained since the time and effort required to break into our car yielded little reward.
To Bill from Olney who found my purse and took the time and effort to reach out to me: thank you! Over the course of my travels, I have seen how cruel humans can be to each other, and my own brush with crime left me feeling bitter. Your kind act has truly touched me to the core and has helped to restore some of my faith in humanity. The next time I find myself in a position to help someone else, I will make sure to pay it forward.
In other news: I am back in London (permanently) on the 17th.
After making my big announcement last month, I decided that I need a change of scenery to help me mentally prepare for my departure. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, I was able to fly down to Key West, Florida to stay with my aunt for two weeks. And so, after waking up at the crack of dawn to get myself to BWI on the first Saturday of April, I found myself winding my way down to the Conch Republic. Key West is an island forming the southernmost point of the Florida Keys and is located 90 miles from Cuba. In fact, the island is closer to Havana than it is Miami. (Source) It was discovered in 1521 by Ponce de Leon, but switched to British hands in the 1763. As a result, the island boasts an odd mix of British, Spanish, Cuban, and Bahamian culture.
I met up with my aunt and uncle during my layover in Orlando before hopping onto the plane that would take me to Key West. Little did I know that this was the ‘party plane’. The woman next to me was completely wasted when she boarded the plane. I doubt the two gin and tonics that she consumed during the hour-long flight helped to reduce her inebriation. The boisterous exploits of my fellow passengers, however, were far overshadowed by the grand production that was landing at the Key West International airport. Twenty minutes before landing the pilot informed us that the runway at the airport was a short one and, as a result, would require ‘an aggressive halt and landing’. Now I have panic attacks during regular landings, so the news that this one would be ‘aggressive’ was most unwelcome. And aggressive it certainly turned out to be, with the plane suddenly dropping from the sky at an impressive rate and then coming to a screeching halt. On the plus side, I set a new personal record for holding my breath.
Within an hour I was at my aunt’s house and changing into more summer-appropriate clothing. Officially listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the house was built in the 1890s and has survived everything that Mother Nature has thrown at it ever since. Between the original features and the renovations conducted in the last ten years, the building is absolutely beautiful.
Over the course of that first week I acclimatized to the warm climate, visited some fantastic sites, and became acquainted with roosters. Indeed, one of the biggest adjustments I had to make was getting used to the heat. Having resided in the UK on and off for the last three years, I had forgotten what it was like to experience proper summer temperatures. And so, for only the second time in my entire life, I was forced to deal with the reality of sunburn. (To those who burn regularly – I feel for you!). The heat also proved to make running an extremely humbling experience. Running 3-miles in Key West felt like running 8 back in Maryland. Another adjustment was getting used to the constant presence of Key West’s native chicken population. The chickens are the descendants of Cuban fighting cocks brought over in the 1800s and are literally everywhere on the island.
One of the first places that I visited was the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, which contains artifacts from several 17th century Spanish shipwrecks. While it was fascinating to hear the story of the sinking of the Spanish treasure fleet off of the Florida Keys in 1622, I was more interested in seeing the treasure itself. And I was not disappointed. Gold and silver bars were everywhere.
I also visited the Ernest Hemingway house on Whitehead Street. From 1931 to 1939, Hemingway lived in the house where he wrote such notable works as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Snows of Kilimanjoro. Aside from its famous connection, the house is a notable tourist attraction due to the presence of over 60 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Like the chickens, they are everywhere.
Also notable was my trip to the Key West Cemetery. Due to the fact that the highest point of elevation on the island is 14 feet above sea level, locals must be buried above ground. This factor, combined with the island’s laid-back attitude, has made for the organized chaos that is the Key West Cemetery. Burial vaults and tombstones are arranged haphazardly around seemingly invisible pathways. Iguanas and chickens roam in packs amongst the stones. It definitely makes for an eerie effect and bicycling past the graveyard at night always made for a somewhat harrowing experience.
Other sites visited included:
1. Historic Mallory Square. One of the main parts of the Old Town, the square takes on a festive atmosphere each night when dozens of vendors and street performers peddle their wares to tourists coming to see the famous sunset.
2. Wherever there were pelicans. Having never seen one in person before, I was fascinated.
3. The Key West Lighthouse.
4. The Higgs Beach African Cemetery. In 1860, a slave ship wrecked off the coast of Key West. Locals rescued many of the slaves and tried to nurse them to health. Despite their efforts, over 300 died as a result of the horrors that they had suffered while on the ship. Their graves lay forgotten on Higgs Beach for over a hundred years before being rediscovered in the early 2000s. This fantastic memorial recalls their struggles and story.
By the end of week one, I had seen most of the ‘tourist’ sites and was eager to discover the essence of Key West. More to follow.
I am either very brave or incredibly stupid. (Probably the latter.)
I am headed back to London…yet again. I have 10 months remaining on my visa and I intend to use them.
Let the job hunt begin again!
Wish me luck. I will need it.
A LOT has happened since I last wrote more than a month ago. After over ten years of chronic pain/illness, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease. I cannot even begin to express the sense of relief that I felt when I was given a name to attach to the symptoms that have plagued me for so long. And now that I have a cause, I can begin to move forward in my recovery. This is not to say that everything is 100% yet, but it is definitely a start. I am more hopeful now than I have been in a long time. I can confidently say that I feel ten times better than I did back in December.
So what is Celiac disease? As the Celiac Sprue Association website states, “Celiac disease…is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder…eating certain types of grain-based products set off an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This, in turn, interferes with the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients found in food.” Essentially, when someone with Celiac disease eats a food containing gluten (a protein found in most grain products), their small intestine cannot handle it.
Common gluten-containing items include: products made from wheat, barley, bulgur, rye, oats, spelt, and kamut; beer, baking powder, bread, most soups, couscous, dry roasted nuts, flours, malt syrup/extract/flavoring, pasta, and seasonings. I eliminated bread and pasta from my diet long ago, but I had absolutely no idea that the baking powder and flour I was using in my recipes was slowly killing me. The couscous and soup that made up my diet in London was responsible for pushing me over the edge health-wise. I was clueless.
It is only in hindsight that I can put the pieces of the puzzle together. Looking at the list of Celiac symptoms, it seems glaringly obvious that this is what I’ve been suffering from all along. Common symptoms include: “abdominal cramping/bloating, anemia, constipation, diarrhea, energy loss, fatigue, infertility, irritable bowel, joint pain, mouth sores or cracks in the corners, tooth enamel defects, weakness, and weight loss.” However, it can cause anxiety, low blood sugar, intestinal/stomach polyps, bone loss, reduced growth in childhood (I actually lost two inches in height between ages 14 and 16), irritability, lactose intolerance, loss of smell, low plasma proteins, muscle weakness, and mood swings – all of which I have been experiencing (in addition to the common symptoms that I have italicized above). As you can imagine, it has made for loads of fun.
The only way to treat Celiac disease (for there is no cure), is to adopt a gluten-free diet for life. I’ve been gluten- and lactose-free for almost two months now. Although it can take as long as one to two years before Celiac sufferers see an improvement in their health, I have already noticed a difference. My daily pain levels, once hovering at a 9 (out of 10), have fallen to an all-time-low average of 2. (Seriously, I haven’t felt this way since sophomore year of college!) My mood is sooo much better, I don’t feel as weak, my joints ache less than they did before, my blood sugar is more stable, and I am slowly regaining my sense of smell. All of this in just two months! It makes me so hopeful for what I will feel like at the six-month mark!
Other things that have happened in the past month include:
- Absolutely insane dating adventures that could provide enough fodder for an entirely new blog. Seriously.
- My first trip down to St. Mary’s College in over two years. I was last on campus in May 2011 and it felt strange visiting a few weeks ago. On the surface it was as if nothing had changed, but then I looked closer. The Campus Center parking lot was expanded and there was a freaking building where I used to park. The students seemed younger than I remembered. When walking with my friend, we frequently used the phrase ‘when I was a student’ and ‘back in my day’. When did we become so jaded? (Probably somewhere in the minutes between graduation and realizing that the recently graduated aren’t exactly the most enticing of individuals to prospective employers.) On the plus side, I did bump into a friend whom I have not seen in two years. I was afraid that our friendship had suffered due to loss of contact and my frequent moves abroad, but was pleased to find that this was not the case.
- My parents surprised me with tickets to Key West, Florida. I will be going for two weeks in April to stay at my aunt’s house to enjoy the warmth and relax. While there, I am planning on running the Key West Race Around the Rock 15k on April 14th. This will be good preparation for the Maryland Half Marathon on May 11th, which is conveniently being held just a few miles away from my parents’ house.
- Early planning for my return to the UK has commenced. Tentative return date? Early June 2013. I’m terrified as I will essentially be in the same position as I was in April 2012: heading over with no job and no place to live with just my meager savings to support me. But I am going to be optimistic and hope that my determination to succeed will help me pull through.
And for your listening pleasure: ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille
I’ve been back in Maryland for a little over a month and am feeling ten times better than I was when I arrived. Naturally, this means that part of my brain feels I am cured (I am not) and is eager for me to be on the move again. This is compounded by the fact that I have returned to no steady form of employment in an economy that favors the almost-dead rather than the recently-graduated. It’s almost enough to make me want to go back to school and get my PhD. (I jest! Somewhat.) Or go to law school, which has become the ‘fail-safe’ plan for just about everyone these days.
My extended family tells me to ‘enjoy’ this time off. I did. One month off was more than enough and now I am ready to get back at it. Unfortunately, I still have a few more months of recovery left before I can settle back into some semblance of normalcy. But that doesn’t mean that I have been idle; I am in the process of setting my future plans into motion even as I write this. Said plans shall be revealed at a later date as they are still in their infancy and I do not wish to jinx anything by committing it to the blogosphere. That said…I wouldn’t get too used to the idea of me being in Maryland.
So what I have been doing with this abundance of free time that I have on my hands?
1. Running. I was that crazy person running in the snow the other day. I didn’t even wipe out once, which was proof that miracles do happen. As a bonus, my new Garmin connects to the satellites in less than a minute, which means that I do not have to stand outside in the cold for half an hour prior to my run. (I was going to include a photo of people running in the snow but, for some reason, Googling ‘running in snow’ turns up mostly photos involving varying degrees of nudity. Am I missing something? Is ‘snow’ a code word for something?)
2. Inaugurating it up with Obama (and one million others). The full story is imminent, but as a teaser, this was basically me at 5am on Inauguration Day. Oh so attractive, I know.
3. Eating radioactive egg sandwiches.
Among the many tests that I have had recently was one known as the ‘Gastric Emptying Study’. This required me to venture to my hospital at obscene hours to eat an egg sandwich containing radioactive isotopes. Now, I don’t know about you, but my parents always warned me off eating radioactive food products, so overcoming my initial revulsion to the sandwich was a bit difficult. And then I sat in the waiting room for four hours. Every hour a nurse would collect me to take a 1-minute MRI photo to track the egg sandwich’s progress through my digestive system before sending me back to waiting hell. I was done by 12:30pm and spent the rest of the afternoon waiting to develop superpowers or, at the very least, start glowing. I was disappointed in both regards.
I live a thrilling life.
As with most things in my life lately, my end of year post for 2012 is late. I blame the fact that I have no commitments at the moment other than doctors’ appointments. If I didn’t have those, I wouldn’t even need to know what day it is. It’s terrifying.
On the plus side, there have been some improvements in my health since returning to the US. I’ve found out that I am both gluten and lactose intolerant, which is not all that surprising considering that breads, pasta, and cheese have been known ‘triggers’ for several years now. Still, knowing that for the rest of my life I will need to avoid all lactose- and gluten-containing foods is somewhat daunting. (FYI, all canned soups, some seasoning blends, and most salad dressings, canned salsas, and candies contain gluten and/or lactose.) But at least one part of the mystery regarding my illness has been solved. Hopefully the rest of the puzzle will fall into place in the coming months.
Anyway, the point of this post is actually to take a look back at 2012. To be honest, it was an interesting year, although if this was good or bad remains to be seen.
Major Life Events:
In January, I ended a major chapter of my life by traveling to London to graduate from King’s College London with my Master’s in International Relations. My Mum accompanied me for her first trip out of the US and it was such a privilege for me to show her my old haunts in the UK.
In April, I moved to the UK with no place to live and no job. Barely a week later, I had found a flat in Hampstead in NW London and had secured a position at London Business School. Over the next seven months, I had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best jobs that I have ever had. Through work, I was able to travel to Belgium and France, and presented to crowds of over 100. It pains me that I had to leave my job.
2012 was a huge year for the UK. In June, the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee with a flotilla along the Thames and an enormous concert at Buckingham Palace. In July, the party was kicked up a notch when the Olympics rolled into town. Fears about overcrowding on the transport systems were proven fruitless as the majority of Londoners left the city.
Unfortunately, my health deteriorated over the course of my time in the UK and in December, I had to move back to the US. It was a decision that broke my heart and still pains me considerably. In fact, the reason I do not keep this blog up more regularly is that it serves as a constant reminder of what I have had to give up.
London – January 2012, April – December 2012
York – January 2012
Isle of Skye – January 2012
Belgium – September 2012
Paris – October 2012
I only ran one race in 2012. I started off the year with a two-month layoff due to a serious stress fracture in my left leg. By the time I moved to the UK, I was back up to running 6-10 miles a day and my flat was ideally located between Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath. I even joined Crossfit Thames in June in order to boost my strength and all-around fitness. Every class kicked my ass, but I loved the punishment and kept coming back for more. However, both suffered when I got sick, and by October I was forced to stop attending Crossfit. (Not before I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Crossfit US vs Europe Challenge!)
My one race this year? The Celtic Solstice 5-miler on December 15th at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. I surprised myself by running 35:04(7:01 per minute pace) – good enough to win me 1st in my age division. Not too shabby considering that I had been unable to run more than three miles without stopping for the past two months.
So what are my goals for 2013? To get better – to get an actual diagnosis for what is wrong with me, to adhere to a strict gluten- and lactose-free diet, to move on with my life. I want to continue running. I want to rejoin Crossfit. I want to be well enough to hang out with my friends and to travel again. As to where I may end up…well this remains to be seen. I can say that I still have a return ticket to the UK through BA that remains in a holding state and is valid until September. What does this mean for me? I wish I could say. A lot can happen between now that the fall. (That said, if any of my London/Edinburgh/UK readers want to keep an eye out for job openings for me…well, your efforts will not be unappreciated.)
I am in the process of writing an end of year post that may or may not be my final one on this blog. I have yet to decide whether it is worth it to continue. And, frankly, this blog serves as a bit of a reminder of what I’ve had to give up as a result of this illness. At the same time, who knows…maybe there is someone out there suffering from the same thing who will read this and feel comforted. (I doubt it, but you never know.)
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to check-in and say yes, I am alive. I am back in Maryland. More on that later.
I also wanted to write an early New Years’ resolution: I will be better by 1 June 2013. While it is true that I have neither a diagnosis nor cure, I am going to try something new for me: positive thinking. Perhaps if I convince myself that I will be better by 1 June, it will happen. I’ve always worked better under pressure and I am going to assume that perhaps my insides will do so also.
In the meantime, I am going to try everything in my power to ‘fix’ myself. I recently had a VERY disheartening doctor’s appointment that left me feeling quite helpless. The upside is that it made me realise that I can not entrust my well-being in the hands of another, which means that I can no longer rule out the possibility that alternative medicine may provide some relief. Positive thinking and dietary changes are the first steps in this journey, others will follow.
On that note…if other people want to start telling themselves, ‘Rebecca will be better by 1 June 2013′…it can’t hurt.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.’ – Maya Angelou
‘Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” – Denis Waitley
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or to accept responsibility for changing them.” – Denis Waitley
6 days left in the UK.
The reality is hitting hard. And try as I might, I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed. Like I could have done something more. Tried harder. Gotten tougher. Ignored the pain. Stuck it out.
I had such plans when I came here. I was going to travel more, rise in my job, be independent, live my dream. And, seven months later, where am I? Moving back to the US to move in with my parents – ill and defeated.
I know that this is only temporary. I will rally – I always do. But in this moment, I find it hard to see the upside to this. And that is why this blog must come to an end for the time being. At least until I find some sort of resolution – if not a cure then some way to manage this condition.
Thanksgiving came and went this week, which meant that, as usual, my father came to visit. When I was in high school, we started taking trips during Thanksgiving break. In 2003, we went to London – my first trip out of the US. Thanksgiving 2004 saw us eating paninis in a French cafe while 2005 was spent on a ghost tour in Edinburgh. Dad continued the tradition by coming to London in 2010 to visit me while I was in grad school. And this week, knowing that the end of my time in the UK is in sight, he came for one last visit. I was determined to make it a good one.
He arrived last Sunday and, after checking into his hotel, we hit the ground running. First stop: Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery of Art.
After taking in over 400 years of artistic masterpieces, we walked to Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden to see the Christmas lights. On Monday, I had to head into work. Dad got to meet my boss (entirely by accident) and caught a glance at our new offices. Then it was off to the highlight of the trip: his birthday surprise.
In 2010, my Dad turned 60 and I took him to see ‘The Jersey Boys’ on the West End. This year, for his 62nd birthday, I took him to see ‘Wicked’. I had the opportunity to see Wicked on Broadway with the original cast when I was in high school, but the West End version was still absolutely amazing, and I think Dad enjoyed himself. Not that you could tell it from the picture below, but still.
bright rainy and early as I made my way to Dad’s hotel by 8am to be picked up by the Evan Evans Tour company for our trip to Bath, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. Having exhausted the majority of London’s activities during his previous six visits, Dad wanted to see the wider UK. And, most of all, he wanted to see Stonehenge. Unfortunately, since Stonehenge is out in the middle of a field, it can be a bit hard to reach by public transportation. Hence the tour.
Our first stop was Salisbury Cathedral.
Completed in 1258 after only 38 years of construction (absolutely unheard of in cathedral time), Salisbury Cathedral was the inspiration for Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the EArth’. It contains the world’s oldest working clock and one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.
While the Catheral provided a nice respite from the rain, our next destination was a bit more unforgiving. Stonehenge, built some 4000 years ago, is located in the middle of the Salisbury plain, which offers little protection from the elements. By the time we arrived, it was freezing and the rain was blowing sideways in the wind. Despite this, the majesty and magic of Stonehenge was not lost.
It was absolutely amazing to see and walk around (but not through) this wonderful piece of history. I spent less time examining it than I would have liked as the mud started to soak through my shoes after fifteen minutes, but I still left the site satisfied. That’s one item that can be crossed off the old bucket list!
Our final destination of the day was Bath. I visited Bath in 2009 with CMRS and have wanted to go back ever since. Sadly, this visit was less than two hours, but it was still fun to show Dad the Roman Baths which had so impressed me on my earlier visit.
After such an exciting day, we arrived back in London at 7:30 having sat in traffic on the outskirts of the city for an hour. I made my way back to my flat and jumped into bed as the next day we were off to….
…Warwick Castle! I last visited the castle in 2008, so it was great to have the opportunity to come back 4 years later. Since the weather was even worse than the previous day and my choice of footwear was rather ill-advised (note to self: Converse shoes are not waterproof), we skipped the gardens and stayed indoors.
We checked out medieval armor.
I found a new boyfriend.
And we climbed some towers and walked along the ramparts.
All in all, it was a great day. Which meant that I was absolutely exhausted when I went back to work for Thursday and Friday. I met up with Dad on Thursday evening for our grand Thanksgiving dinner of sandwiches at Pret-A-Manger. Then he went to my alma mater of King’s College London to have a tour of the computing museum from one of the computer science professors. On Friday, Dad came up to Hampstead for dinner at the Holly Bush.
Alas, today was his final day in London and we enjoyed breakfast together before he left to catch his flight out of Heathrow. I had hoped to continue on the Runner’s World holiday running streak where you run every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Alas, I suffered (and am still suffering?) a major attack of…well, my usual health issues, so my streak had to end after two days. I can’t leave my bed, much less expect to run a mile. This does not bode well for the Celtic Solstice 5-miler on the 15th, but I have decided that no matter what happens on the day, even if I have to walk the blasted 5 miles, I will enjoy the experience and have fun. I can’t predict whether my health will cooperate or what will happen, but I can control my reaction to the event. And I think this is a good philosophy to live by for the next 18 days until I board my last flight back to the US.
It is mid-November and the English weather is playing games on all of us. In November 2010, I remember it being so cold that each time I ventured across Millennium Bridge on my way to the Strand for class was an ordeal. Kitting up for any expedition north of the Thames meant bundling up in multiple layers, adding woolen scarf and hat just before opening the door. And, for a few weeks in October, it appeared as if this might be the case this year. Strangely, when November hit, the temperatures climbed again and today it was in the high 50s…which is just about bearable for me. I didn’t even have to wear a scarf. (Ridiculous, I know.)
Anyway, life has been consumed by packing, working, and being ill. Since handing in my notice two weeks ago, my intestinal system has decided that anything goes, which has meant that I ended up heading back home from work an hour after arriving on Thursday. I didn’t move from bed all day and have been battling the resulting fatigue of the attack ever since. A few of my co-workers treat me as if I am going to drop dead at any moment. It’s unsettling since things aren’t that bad and I try my best to carry on as normal.
My Dad arrives in London tomorrow morning, which will be exciting since I have not seen him in seven months. We have grand plans for the week (I am taking Tuesday and Wednesday off) and our adventures will no doubt appear on this blog at some point.
In other news: I realize that I never wrote about my trip to
Cambridge the ‘other place’ a few weeks ago. I had been to Cambridge once before – in March 2011 – when I was visiting potential PhD locations. And as I walked the streets again in early November 2012, it was a bit odd to think that had I taken up my offer for this fall, my life would be so much different at the moment. Instead of making my way down to Baker’s Street each morning, I could have been strolling amongst the ancient buildings, soaking up knowledge…and probably stressing out every day over the sheer amount of work to complete. Everything happens for a reason.
My purpose for heading to Cambridge was The Civil Wars concert. For those who don’t know, the Civil Wars are a Grammy award-winning duo whose tracks most recently appeared in The Hunger Games. I’ve known about them for two years and have been completely in love ever since I heard their single ‘Barton Hollow’. In June, when I found out they would be touring the UK, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to see them live. The London show at the Roundhouse in Camden was already sold out, but the gig (with special guest) at the Cambridge Corn Exchange was still available.
And so, on a rainy and overcast Sunday in early November, I found myself strolling the streets of Cambridge.
At 7:45, the doors opened and I rushed to the front. The hour and forty-five minute wait was worth it when I grabbed a spot in the first row, literally 3 feet from the stage. Amazing. At 8:30, the anticipation having reached fever pitch, the ‘special guests’ of the evenings came onto stage – none other than The Lumineers!!!
They were amazing. The performance was electric and the atmosphere was incredible. I will admit, however, that it was a bit strange experiencing my first concert in the UK. As predicted, the crowd was more subdued and reluctant to participate in the sing-along portions. It was halfway through the Lumineers’ set before the crowd warmed up. All too soon, it was over. We sat through an hour wait and then The Civil Wars came on.
They were just as dynamic in real life as in their recordings (which, in this day and age when most performers tend to use backup recordings, was much appreciated). I loved every moment of it. The concert let out at 10:30 and I sprinted to the train station to catch the last train home which, incidentally, meant getting back to London at 1AM. Yes, waking up five hours later for work was terrific.
Sadly, four days after the concert, The Civil Wars announced that they were cancelling the rest of their tour and going on hiatus. They didn’t explain why, but I imagine that it may have something to do with the fact that Joy had a baby back in June and they kicked off their tour shortly afterward (her husband is the tour manager). Whatever the reason, I hope that they resolve their differences, take a well-earned break, and make more music in the future. They are simply too talented not to.
The Lumineers – Ho Hey
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
The Civil Wars – Poison & Wine
By the numbers:
25: Days until back in the US
28: Days until the Celtic Solstice 5-miler