As I leaned my warm forehead against the cold glass window on the train headed toward my destination — my new university, if only for a semester — I wondered what all these new people were really like.
I saw no flood of people, no children playing outside, no cars traveling. Everyone must be at school or work, but I knew from the trickling flow of passengers gaining their entry onto my train that things must just be slow today. The areas we were speeding past looked quite flooded from all the rain.
If only my family could see this new land, one that looked like the greenest and most fertile I’d seen in my life, I would be overjoyed. Well, perhaps it wasn’t new, of course, but new to my generation and many generations before it.
You see, part of my family descended from the Welsh; my grandmother swears I inherited the common Welsh talent of singing, but I’m too bashful to admit that possibility. I am, after all, American, or a mutt.
But now I have the opportunity to observe these people.
I sighed and lifted my head from the glass. The infinite green fields’ brightness was overshadowed by a constant blanket of clouds, but I didn’t care. It was gorgeous. This land that somehow fit into my genes, however distant and unseen. This land was intertwined with my spirit somehow and I was completely immersed in it.
With a jump, I realized a young woman close to my age was requesting the seat beside me. Reluctantly, I turned my eyes from the view and looked at the tiny person who, in comparison with my solid 5-foot-9-inch frame, looked like a small Charlotte Church.
It was gorgeous. This land that somehow fit into my genes, however distant and unseen. This land was intertwined with my spirit somehow and I was completely immersed in it.I knew instinctively I probably should not strike up a conversation with her. Although I did not have any horrible experiences, I had been warned of this social difference from my English friend, Olli.
One huge difference from the inhabitants of London and my own loud American self was a lack of random socialization with sporadic conversation. In other words, one couldn’t strike up a conversation with a random person on the underground, even if this person seemed harmless by first impression.
I suppose that’s a good incentive not to try it, especially in such a large city like London, but it seemed like the Welsh were relatively friendly. I decided to try to talk to this little newcomer next to me.
Pleasantly, I did strike up a random conversation with success. This Welsh young businesswoman was named Charlotte-ish; I couldn't remember anything during a period of jet-lag or any other time for that matter, so this name was a challenge. She was a commuter just a few years older than me and originally from Swansea, my eventual destination.
I feared I wouldn’t be able to understand someone with a Welsh accent, but I was pleasantly surprised I could understand most of what she said on the first try. We talked about my impending adventure in Swansea and her general impressions of living in Wales for most of her life.
Charlotte-ish told me it would be much colder in this part of Great Britain, but it was certainly worth seeing all the beaches and dropping in for a dip with the surfers.
My traveling partner from UT would soon dash my hopes of attempting such an act because she told me about sharks that inhabit the waters around Wales, which absolutely terrifies me. I also hate the cold, but my adventurous instincts tell me at least to try. I like to challenge my fears, but sometimes it just makes them worse.
As our conversation directed itself away from water and surfing, I looked up into the sullen clouds and gazed upon a nearly-complete rainbow just beyond the train tracks. I was pretty excited about such a thing, which is a rarity in Tennessee. But Charlotte-ish only waved it off stating that the weather could never make up its mind between a bit of light and mostly rain.
Our conversation soon ended as she hopped up from her seat saying she had recently moved to an area with a 20-minute train ride away from Swansea. I waved as we said our good-byes and good lucks, and I turned again toward the green hills misty with rain. I would be at the much-awaited place of my dreams soon enough.
Written by: Sheridan Davis