“Tell me, tell me what happened Thomas. Tell me what’s going to happen.” – Grandma Builds-The-Fire, Smoke Signals
Before moving to Rochester, I had never been outside the United States of Ah-meh-dee-ka (America). Then, shortly after moving to the ROC, I got a passport and visited Canada, yet, fun fact, I still have never even been to M E X I C O! All of my family trips were road trips and anytime we traveled off the rez, someone would joke “do you have your passport? You’re leaving the rez ya know, and going into a whole different country.”
The two quotes above are from the film Smoke Signals (1998). It is one of my favorite films, one that my family and I like to quote often. I am almost certain that every Native family quotes it on the daily.
In the film, Thomas replies, “but it’s the United States.” And then Lucy-goosey says, “Damn right it is! That’s as foreign as it gets. Hope you two have your vaccinations.”
For this trip, I did indeed have my passport and all my vaccinations were up to date! I was ready for London. Hopefully you have read my “Winning London” post, if not I suggest you do. If you did, you know that I was not traveling alone. My traveling buddy, Darrell, and I were two first-time abroad travelers, exploring London together. So, my stories are not my own, but this is my version.
Now, let me tell you what happened in London.
This London leg of my trip can essentially be divided into three Ps: Palaces, People, and Pimm’s.
P A L A C E S
Oh, so many beautiful palaces and castles (Kensington, Windsor, Tower of London) to visit in London. One of the very first things I had my heart set on doing was seeing Buckingham Palace. When I landed in London, my first thought was, “the Q U E E N and I are basically breathing the same air.” I have been trying to identify where this obsession with Her Majesty began, but I can’t. I know my obsession with Diana began as a little girl, but at some point, I began to fangirl over the Queen.
Why? Because she is tough, yet so regal. Respect isn’t requested, it’s demanded. There is no mocking or insulting her, because why would you? I mean she has given her life to serve. And during the war she was a mechanic! At ten years old, I was a mechanic’s assistant! See, we have so much in common, my crown is just invisible.
Nothing but love for THEE Q U E E N 👑
As we were approaching Buckingham Palace, I turned to Darrell and said, “my heart is beating so fast. You have no idea how excited I am right now.” He just smiled, and was probably thinking this girl is odd. But regardless of what was going through his mind, when we got in front of the palace, and I had a chance to take it all in, he captured my happiness with this photo, and then these at Kensington and the Tower of London.
B U C K I N G H A M
K E N S I N G T O N
T O W E R of L O N D O N
Before leaving Buckingham, I insisted that we wave, just in case Her Majesty was watching. I had made little Nicole’s dream come true.
P E O P L E
I loved London, not only because of all the sights but I enjoyed interacting with the people of London. Before the trip, I was a little nervous because I have always heard that Brits detest Americans, but what about “Native Americans?” I wondered. There was no need to worry, they were very nice. There are two London-ers who stand out.
I met at Hillsong London. Hillsong is a big church, with campuses around the world. On Sunday, I had plans to attend a service and I wanted a good seat! So, I arrived a little early and found a seat close to the front. During worship, I noticed that the person sitting next to me was taking videos during the worship part of the service, this made me comfortable and I pulled out my cell phone and took a few videos of my own.
During the mingling part of service, we got to talking and she quickly found out I was visiting from “New York” on holiday. After service, we spoke more and she invited me to stay for the second service, stating that it might be another speaker with a different sermon. Or, if not, she advised that I at least
“stay for worship. My husband is playing the drums.”
OOOHHH, that is when it clicked! She was taking videos, because she was fangirling over her husband, who was playing the drums. I thought that was one of the cutest things ever.
📸 Instagram: @gemmagullaci_
So I stayed, and in between service we spoke more. She found out that, the previous day, I had been at the Royal Wedding, and she pulled her husband over to tell him. We found each other on Instagram, followed each other, and then shared more about ourselves. She was kind, welcoming, and funny. Definitely someone I wanted to get to know more, thank goodness for social media. Meeting her showed me that it doesn’t take much to make another person feel welcomed. Just say hello and give them a smile. Thanks Gemma, for your kindness!
When my friend Brittany found out I was in London, she suggested that I meet up with a friend of hers.
This is how I imagine her conversation went,
“Karim, I have this friend who will be visiting London and you should meet up with her. BUT, a warning, she is so uncool. She is going to London for the Royal Wedding. But you still have to meet her.”
After corresponding back and forth, Darrel, Karim, and I met for steaks and drinks. Karim was indeed very cool. He was happy living his life, producing music, and living life on his own terms. I can totally see how he and BG bonded. The fact that I was able to meet one of my friend’s friend, in L O N D O N, is amazing! Life is amazing like that!
P I M M S
Pimm’s is code word for Royal Wedding, only because, for the purpose of this post, it fits in the “P” category.
What stood out to me most about the royal wedding was the relaxed atmosphere of it all, especially with security. Initially we thought the long shuffle to the park was due to security, but no, security was relaxed, it was due to the fact that so many people had turned up for this wedding.
A different kind of “my people.”
When we got into the gates, we found a seat right in front of a screen, and in the shade. Both were very important, because I wanted to watch the wedding and not roast in the sun. It was a beautiful sunny day! As we settled on the grass, getting comfortable for the next 6 hours, we noticed that people came prepared. They had blankets, lawn chairs, and picnic baskets full of food, wine, and desserts.
If I had known we could bring in food, we wouldn’t have had to spend 30 pounds on a pitcher of Pimm’s, and we wouldn’t only have my little bag of goldfish to snack on. Being from the US, that just isn’t heard of for large events, so we were not prepared!
But the wedding, it was beautiful. If you watched it on TV you saw everything I saw. However, the best part was being surrounded by people, who like me, wanted to be there. So when the Queen rolled up, we all clapped. When we saw the pride in Doria’s eyes, we all fell in love with her. When the Princes showed up, we all cheered and woo’d. When Bishop Curry, clearly over his time, continued to preach on and make the older royals uncomfortable we LOVED it! But when that choir stood, everyone went silent but then one by one started singing, and then I turned around and saw that people behind me were standing together, with their arms linked, and singing “Stand by Me.” Ughhhhhhh…. That got the tears rolling all over again.
It was not lost on any of us just how significant this wedding was. While I likely would have wanted to attend the wedding of Prince Harry and whomever chose to marry him, the fact that he was marrying a biracial, American actress, well, I NEEDED to be a part of that!
Yes, I spent 3 pounds on this flag.
In the months prior to the engagement, I Googled the heck out of Meghan Markle, and I was impressed. She seemed to be living the quiet life of a celebrity, one who was happy influencing others through her lifestyle blog, and was committed to being a humanitarian and an advocate for women. On top of everything, I admired how she has carried herself, when the press was being cruel and her family wanting to cash in on her. I imagine that was not easy.
As the guests were arriving, I went to find the toilets and then to grab a pitcher of Pimm’s. I was gone for about 25 minutes, and in that time the crowd cheered loudly TWICE. I didn’t have a screen near me, and with no cell data, I could not look it up immediately on Twitter (that’s just the worst). When I returned, I asked Darrel what I had missed.
“uh, you missed George Clooney and his wife.”
“What?! I missed Amal? Ughhh, okay. What was she wearing?”
“some yellow dress.”
Then, I asked about the second cheers,
“who were they for?”
“some guy with a lot of tattoos.”
I was trying to think, who could that possibly be? And, while I couldn’t think of anyone, the gentleman in front of us turned around and said,
“that was David Beckham.”
I looked over at Darrell, with my eyes probably popping out of its sockets, and said,
“You don’t know who David Beckham is?”
He just shrugged his shoulders.
How gorgeous is Amal? | Seriously, a man with tattoos?? That, sir, is David Beckham.
If it were not for me, he would have been exploring London and not sitting amongst a crowd of Royal fanatics. While he had no idea who the guests were, I was having fun dishing out all my royal knowledge and honestly, I was happy to have had a companion to talk to for those 6 hours.
T H E S H O T
When it looked like the wedding would be ending soon, I leaned over to Darrell and set up the plan to get “THE SHOT.”
“Okay, when this ends, I am going to jump over all these people and try to make my way to the front. Can you take my bag, and once the carriage passes I will meet you under that tree,” I instructed.
He replied, “sure, yeah I kinda want to get out of the sun.”
So when the crowd began to make movements, I jumped up and miraculously made my way close to the front. At first, the ladies I was behind were annoyed with me, because I was occupying their space, insert eye roll. First of all, their chairs were taking up more space than needed and second, I had just spent 6 hours next to a Brit who didn’t understand the concept of space. So I was not going to pay any mind.
When the carriage was approaching, I couldn’t decide between a video and a photo. At the last second, I chose video. I prayed that I would capture something because, I was not going to view this moment from my screen. Instead, I put my hands in the air and kept my eyes on that carriage.
When the carriage, carrying the newly titled Duke and Duchess of Sussex, got right in front of me, my second miracle occurred, the bride and groom looked in my direction and waved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe it! And guess, what? I got it on video, well sort of. The lady in front of me, well her hand got in the way. But you can still see them look over.
B E S T memory E V E R!!
To the person whose hand this is: I forgive, but never will forget.
There are a lot more stories I could share, but I think this will do. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure in London.