I thought I was going to have enough to write about with what happened yesterday, but then bam, today came.
Yesterday, I went on a tour of Western UK, and I saw Stonehenge, Windsor, and Bath. Bath is significant for me, because it is where I was supposed to go to school for my creative writing MFA. There in Bath is some kind of weird alter-world where I decided to screw my cancer scare, screw the debt I would have been in, and gone for the degree in England. I really wanted Bath to be ugly. Unfortunately, it looked like this:
I was sad. I hurried through the Roman Baths so I could walk around the town and think about how my life would have been different.
I thought about the people I've met since September of 2013. I thought about all the plays I did, all the stories I'd written, all the people who had died, all the funerals I'd been to, and of course the Disney trips with Alex. I thought about Alex. I thought about my friends, my family. I thought about how I'd grown, how much I loved Stonecoast.
And somewhere in the middle of all this, I realized that when I would have returned to the states with a PhD next spring, both of my grandmothers would have died, my friend would have died. And then as I sat in the square, texting my friend about how sad I was that I hadn't lived here, I said, "What do you think would have happened if I'd gone?"
"Well," they said. "I probably wouldn't be here anymore."
Turns out, not to my knowledge, that because I was in the states, this friend hadn't been alone. This friend had someone when they needed someone. And this friend would be dead. Like really really dead. They were certain of this. And it shook me up the rest of the day.
If I had lived here, this person would be dead.
And somewhere around driving along some old village with a bell tower outside of Stonehenge, I started writing furiously. I didn't write on either of my projects. It was a completely new idea. It culminated all these pictures I'd been taking, the conversation through text I'd just had, my new love for this country, and the connection to the past that we get through travel.
As of this afternoon, I have twenty raw pages of the new project, with my friend's gracious blessing.
That leads us into today. I wrote most of those pages on the train from London to Edinburgh. It was not as magical as I'd hoped, since we had to pass the exact spot where Rowling has said Platform 9 3/4ths is (hint: it's not between 9 and 10, and it's also not the commercial gift shop faux platform spot). And Rowling came up with the idea for Harry on a train heading to Edinburgh. So I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I sometimes looked out the window, but I was cramped and tired and after four hours, we arrived in Edinburgh.
I am staying at the childhood home of Kenneth Grahame. This is the sign in the corridor to explain that this is a nationally historic house and no, the bed and breakfast cannot put an elevator in:
I mean, what the effing hell is that? Of course she wrote a bestselling fantasy series. She was looking at Hogwarts while she did it. If you can't tell from this pic, that castle is Edinburgh castle. It looks like this from the front:
Oh yeah, and that's the view from my front porch right now.
So I was there for two hours. I had a pop and a pizza. I wrote furiously in my notebook. And in the tradition of J.K. Rowling, I went ahead and wrote the last chapter of my series.
It was marvelous.
I am so honored to have been able to go to Edinburgh and sit in her seat. I am so honored to be able to learn from her, to be able to be my own self here, to walk around the streets and take it all in. I didn't know a city could be so beautiful.
On the way home, I stopped for the ferris wheel. I had six pounds left over, and that's how much it was for a student to ride. The ferris wheel pivots like a tea cup ride, so I was able to steer my view. I saw the ocean. I saw the Mound. I saw the castle. I saw the cliffs. And I nearly cried.
This trip is so special. My writing spaces have been in the old walking paths of the storytelling gods and goddesses. On the train car as we pulled in, I swore I was flying.
So now the next step is taking this excitement and imagination with me as I return home in a few days. Sitting in the coffee shop reminded me that once Rowling was my age. She was penniless, she was alone in this city, and she wrote every single day, looking out to that castle, and she changed the world.
I am serious about fighting for my life. It has not been mine for so long. But no more. This world has opened up to me, and the door is never shutting again.
I want to end with a note to Rowling, although I know she will probably not stumble on it.
You don't know me, but you changed my life. I was scared of death, and then you taught me how to not be afraid. I didn't think I was good enough, but then you gave us Hermione. You taught me what real love was through Harry and his family and friends. There are no words to tell you how much your writing has meant to me. There is nothing coherent that I can say to tell you how you've saved my life and enriched it for the better. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
So I have been completely surrounded by the greats since landing in Ireland and being picked up from the airport by Annie Freaking Deppe. I saw Charles Dickens' resting place, J.M. Barrie's neighborhood, Alfred Hitchcock's home, King's Cross, the Blaskets Islands, etc. etc. etc. ... and now in the last few hours I've run into Wind in the Willows, the real life Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Harry Potter.
I woke up from a nap, and I decided to walk to the coffee shop where Rowling wrote her book.
Rowling is my idol. If I ever meet her, I will probably just go into cardiac arrest and die right in front of her, and it will be really awkward. She influenced my life, and her books are my bible in writing.
For those of you who may not know, I wrote a popular Harry Potter fanfiction that took off about ten years ago. I know some of you know me from this, so you can imagine how goddamned elated I was to snag her old table and write there for two hours.
Above, you'll see her literal view as she wrote Philosopher's Stone. Just in case you missed it, I'll post it here again. You need to see this.