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Courage under Fire on the London Tube

It’s no secret that London is my favorite city. I love the parks, the free museums, the sweet smell of Covent Garden, the old dusty buildings and the fast paced people. I love the stereotypes of fish and chips, the craze behind Kate Middleton and the adorable yet harsh cockney accent. But, one night my love and fears for living in a big city came head to head. 

I had just dropped my mom off at her hotel. She was visiting me for ten days during my study abroad semester and we had just had an amazing night out. While I didn’t normally wander the streets by myself, this night I decided that I could safety and easily navigate the tube back to my flat with no problems. And I would have been right if it weren’t for the fire at the end of the line.

Yep, you read that right- a fire in the tube. Apparently it happens quite often, as most of the other passengers didn’t seem phased as we were evacuated out and onto Oxford street at the Marble Arch stop.

While I had visited Hyde Park during the day many times, I wasn’t exactly excited to be dumped out in the middle of the night. My flat was four tube stops away- about a forty-five minute walk. Even though it was late November it wasn’t very cold that night- and luckily it wasn’t raining.

It was calm, almost too calm. A few people here and there spilling out of pubs or waiting for the bus. Most people who were walking did so with a silent determination.  I followed the lead of others and walked confidently and fast. I wasn’t out for a stroll, but at the same time I never felt like I couldn’t take my time. I didn’t feel in danger, which I remember thinking was odd. Back in Florida I would never have just walked through the downtown streets at 2am by myself. But living in London, living as a local, I found myself more courageous than I ever knew.

It was the same street that I had walked down so many times before, but that night it felt completely new. I felt like London and I were having an intimate moment. That we understood each other- if giving a city a feeling towards you isn’t absolutely ridiculous. I felt at ease. I noticed all the little noises that seem to get lost during the day; the slow hum of a big clock, the street lights buzzing, the drains dripping.

It wasn’t long before I arrived back at my flat, time felt like it had stood still. My fears about walking home had somehow dissolved into the night, like early morning dew. I was strangely proud of myself, not for making it home- that had to happen- but for not being so afraid. Instead of jumping to conclusions or heart racing, I relaxed into myself and trusted myself to get home safely. I let go of my preconceived ideas about big cities at night and let the actual situation guide me.

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” – Raymond Linquist

It’s strange how little situations or moments stick with you long after they have passed. Any time I am in a sticky situation, I always remember my 2am walk through London. I probably never would have taken it if it weren’t for that tube fire, but I’m so lucky to draw on that experience.

Do you have a courage under fire situation? (Doesn’t have to be literal!)

photos via 1, 2, 3.