It’s incredible to think about how different the world was just over a year ago. I was taking the tube to my new City international law firm job, dressed as a true City lawyer and without a face mask. Sure, there were murmurs on the news about this mysterious virus in China, but wow, were we in for a ride. And we still are on this crazy roller coaster. And even amongst all the uncertainty, I made the difficult decision to actually fly across the Atlantic ocean to see my family and attend my best friend’s wedding. A year ago, this trip would’ve not made me have a single doubt. But of course, in 2020, this decision came with a lot of anxiety.
Earlier in the year, I received a lovely box of gifts from my college best friend asking me to be the Maid of Honor at her wedding in October 2020. I was so over the moon and thrilled at the idea of seeing not only her and her fiancee but also all the college friends that were likely attending too! But then, of course, a pandemic hit and all of a sudden a happy occasion was tainted by fear.
As I mentioned in my Autumn Winter Digest, I was really anxious about my decision to go to the US. On the one hand, I so wanted to be at my best friend’s wedding. I was going to be the Maid of Honor after all. But then, on the other hand, there was a ravaging pandemic and I was plagued with questions like: what will I do if I’m barred from coming back to the UK? What if I bring Covid-19 with me and spread it to my loved ones? Is it safe to fly? Would if I get sick? And, is it morally responsible for me to fly at a time like this?
Nonetheless, after weighing all the pros and cons, I decided to go. Yes, I was going to the wedding, but I was also visiting my family who I hadn’t seen since December 2019. I missed them dearly, and it’s also so difficult to be away from family during a crisis like a pandemic.
As for the flight itself, I made sure to book a seat in the back of the plane where there were no other passengers nearby. I wore a double mask, and also came aboard with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser. I also made sure to eat my meal before leaving home so that I wouldn’t have to take off my mask on the plane. All in all, I felt incredibly safe and there were barely any passengers on the plane.
I then touched down in Virginia, and my dad came to pick me up. It was pretty surreal seeing my dad and not knowing whether to give him a hug or not. I decided to wait until home to shower and change clothes.
It was really nice to be at home, and October is such a lovely time of year in Virginia as autumn really takes hold of the flora. We did some fun activities, like having a bonfire, but I also helped around the house.
My youngest brother, Connor, and I took a day trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It’s a small, historic town just over the border with Virginia. The town’s location is where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, so you can see both Maryland and Virginia from that viewpoint. I’ve been to Harper’s Ferry several times, but it’s always a fun adventure because there’s a lot to see and it also is home to some fantastic views.
As the weather was so nice, the whole family went on various nature trips throughout my stay. One day we headed out to Shenandoah National Park, another day we went on a hike somewhere in western Virginia. The weather was indeed incredible and it was so wonderful to see the autumn foliage. It just reaffirmed that my favourite season really is Autumn.
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
We also did plenty of at-home activities too. One night we had a Fondue Night, and we went all out with cheese fondue for dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert.
Now, onto the journey to Ohio for the wedding. A bridesmaid, and one of my dear friends, lives in DC and she and her boyfriend, Jeff, were planning on driving to Ohio. I latched on by joining them the night before, so we could drive out early the next morning. After listening to half an audiobook and a long day of driving, we arrived in warm, sunny Columbus, Ohio. It was so incredibly amazing to see my best friend after more than a year of being apart. We enjoyed catching up over some local sandwiches we ordered (they were so delicious). For dinner, the whole out of town group of guests had pizza in the park while Rhiannon handed out gifts to the bridal party.
I stayed over at Rhiannon’s place as Nick was staying away from home that night. Bright and early the next morning Lauren and her boyfriend brought us pastries for breakfast, and then we headed out to the Hilton Hotel for all that good getting ready stuff. There were mimosas, pastries, fruit, cheese… and then of course a hairstylist and makeup artist. It was a lot of fun getting ready, but it was certainly so weird to be doing something that felt so… well… normal!
And then, it was time for the wedding ceremony and reception. It was a beautiful wedding and I was so honoured to be there. We even FaceTimed one of the bridesmaids as she couldn’t make it, but it was so nice to be able to include her. At the reception, all us old college friends got together and, you know, dancing socially distanced with masks on felt like some sort of weird Halloween party! Ha, it was tons of fun. Also, my Maid of Honor speech went well, and the night flew by.
That evening, I was dropped off at an Airbnb where I just crashed. I was truly exhausted. The next morning, I met up with Lauren and Jeff to grab breakfast from Skillet, which I highly recommend. It’s an American farm-to-table restaurant that has the best breakfast dishes. We then headed over to Rhiannon’s place to say good morning to the newlyweds and also say our goodbyes. Before we knew it, we were back to listening to our audiobook once more. And then, I had to say goodbye to Lauren as well. The trip went by so quickly, but I feel so lucky to have been able to see two wonderful friends.
And not only was it great to see friends, but it was also such a privilege to spend time with my family. Writing this in March 2021, still in lockdown and unable to fly anywhere, I’m glad I took the plunge.
Have you managed to see any family over the past year?