I am in the passenger seat, flustered and frustrated, wondering why the driver that the bride’s father hired keeps missing the proper turns. I have to photograph this wedding and I need to be on time. I politely ask why he’s not taking the correct directions to the Decatur, GA hotel. He stops responding to me. “Sir, what are you doing??” I ask repeatedly, angry and scared. His eyes are still open, his hands still on the wheel. Our car began swerving over lane lines, now onto incoming traffic, with several cars veering violently out of harm’s way. It lasts for at least a minute and a half and through at least four traffic lights. I thought there was nothing I could do but face death or dire injury…until the will to live kicked in. Still frightened senseless, I grab the steering wheel from my seat, carry my leg over to locate the brakes and steer the car on a grassy patch adjacent to the hectic highway…the highway we should have been on had he not missed his turns.
The firefighters that arrived discovered he went under a diabetic coma while driving. We cheated death that day…and the event illuminated how I have cheated myself from living the life I really want. That day on November 2013 taught me that time is too finite to not follow your bliss. Traveling the world and living abroad in London, the truest home in my heart, does not seem as unreasonable anymore.
Time well spent, I have learned, is time used to live your dreams…whatever or wherever that may be. Begin asking me “If you could live anywhere…” and I would most likely interject, blurting “London!” with fervor and conviction. My love for this city transcends the common praise points of other foreign tourists (The double-decker buses! The history! Those lovely accents!). No: London transforms me. Like some hypnotic hold, I visit London and magically begin living life the way I should without deliberate effort. My calculated Capricorn nature surrenders to a spontaneous, blissful version of myself as soon as I land in Heathrow.
London is an unpredictable metropolis. You could set intentions on your first study abroad trip and talk to a cell phone rep, the first person you meet in London, to get a UK phone and move along. Instead, you hit it off, attend the guy’s church and befriend nearly everyone, and five years later receive an invitation from London to Atlanta asking to fly up and attend his wedding (it was a lovely one, too). You could find yourself impatiently waiting on a traffic-ridden bus to get back to your host’s flat after leaving monstrous summer jam Notting Hill Carnival (the largest festival in Europe). You could then strike up conversation with two grad school city-dwellers seated behind you and get invited to hang with them in dodgy Dalston, whisked away unknowingly into a classic rock karaoke night where a loopy male patron summons you ballroom dance with him to the sounds of INXS. Everyday is an adventure in this city, and it has taught me how to let go and let life lead.
It is also the several kinds of people I meet- fascinating, cheeky, progressive, eclectic- that makes visiting London such a dream. Connecting with Londoners feels like connecting with the entire world. And it is an integrated world. There are countless moments where I am partying in East London with native Bangladeshis, Nigerians, Italians, Koreans, Pakistani, etc., all socializing and enjoying their time together without a modicum of cultural tension. As corny as it sounds, I truly do feel one with the world here, and no other destination comes close.
I do not want to die wishing I had traveled more. I do not want to die merely wanting to live in the city I adore with my every being. I let my London friends know days after the car incident that I decided to visit the following month. I did not care about the travel expenses as much as I cared about being where I wanted to be…where I belonged. I spent this past Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day and birthday celebrating with my amazing group of London lads and basked in the bliss of being “home”. During that trip, I let my friends there know about some very big news:
“So…I’ve decided to move to London by the end of this summer.”
The collective response:
“That doesn’t surprise me at all. You know you’re a local at heart! It’s about time.”
It is indeed time, for the right time to live my greatest life- while I have time- is right now.
About the Author: Travis Levius is an international photographer and inspiration/travel writer with a really big itch to visit 10 new countries this year.
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