I’m a very happy young man. And I am firmly of the belief that one should mark in time this kind of realization, however slight or over-earnest it may seem.
It is funny to recall myself four months ago, when I arrived in London. I was blinded by the Christmas lights of my time home for the holidays, my eyes heavy-lidded and dark from Fall semester’s busyness. Thankfully, I mustered strength or courage—oft one in the same—to keep awake, aware of the speedy sights of the unbelievably alive metropolis that is London. I found it so remarkable that a place with such history, such age could still bristle and bounce with fervor and ferocity, and I found myself inspired and invigorated. In the darkest nighttime of my catching my breath at home in Little Ferry, New Jersey, I was so intimidated by the demands I supposed traveling abroad would make of me. I assumed weakness in myself, and I quietly shivered under the comfort of my childhood bed covers as I contemplated all the experiences to which I would be wearily submitted, preoccupied and haunted by the question of “how?” How would I do this? How exactly could I become untethered from all to which I am so wed?
And yet, I had made a bold choice I needed to honor. My choice to spend a semester of my college career in London was one long brooded over, despite its inevitability. No matter what was happening in Boston or at home, there always lied, looming in the not-so-distant reaches of time, this great leap across the pond, off the beaten path of comfort and all that which I could safely expect to meet me. This detour was long designed into my being, and I felt like I was marked with a departure date, my wintertime anxiety merely chaffing at the inexorable pull of a fate I could not avoid. Everyone in my life could read it all over me, no matter how married to masking it I was. And in the frigid chill of early January, I tapped a reserve of warmth deep within me invigorating enough to shake free from the paralytic shackles of fear that bound me to my homeland. I confessed my condition to myself. I admitted, in full view of all of my assumed spectators, who exactly I was at this crossroads in my little life. I was Michael John Ciszewski, a six foot tall man with a strangely boyish disposition, who had somehow danced his way through twenty years of astonishing life experience with overwhelming affection that had supported him through every trial such experience held. I was Michael John Ciszewski, an actor and writer and relentless romantic, who was going to make something of himself far, far away from all he knew, on the soil of an empire upon which the sun used to never set. These days, it does, and I did declare, at long last, with great relief that I was actively going to bear witness to and wax poetic over each and every English sunset I had the great privilege to see.
Tonight, with Sunday’s conclusion of week past and introduction to the week ahead, I stand blown away by my gratitude for the growth I have allowed myself, that which I pursued, against all self-invented odds.
Tonight I took a moment of pause outside my London dorm on the corner of Queensbury Place and Cromwell Ave, admiring the light of sunset that tickled the ornate stonework of London’s Natural History Museum. I was so happy. I opened my eyes to see the black cabs that passed by on their way into Central London and the many stylish Britons who walked by me presumably on their way home. And that’s exactly where I was—home, not necessarily in the United Kingdom, but in my ever-so-weathered skin.
I am at home here because I have rediscovered home in myself. I will defy cries of “how trite!” and any seemingly excessive over-earnestness to so declare. I feel come of age. In a little over a month, I will turn twenty-one and transform, according to my benevolent-if-puzzling fairy godmother America, into an adult. I know now, with the deepest trust, that I close this chapter and begin writing the next with fresh, keen, gleaming green eyes made greener from exposure to the verdancy of my many favorite English parks. Four months abroad, four months spending what I originally thought both too much money and too much energy to make a place for myself here, and I find now that I possess in me an infinite wealth of spirit enough to compensate.
The glistening crown jewels of kings and queens come and gone have illuminated in me my own divine right to build a kingdom of my own with all my life yet to come. Inspired by the valor of nobility past, I am, again and more than ever before, certain of my intrinsic power to brave any battle, conquer any foe, proclaim and set forth on all my wildest dreams.
I suppose it perhaps unsurprising. I had to go away to come home. But, boy, am I overtaken with gratitude that I learned this firsthand as it unfolded beneath my weathered black leather shoes. I can not begin to imagine the next steps they’ll take—not for fear but rather for willingness to let my mortal feet excitedly animate them as they pound pavements along the path I cut for myself in this great, big, beautiful world.
There lie but two nemeses opposite me along the way, and they have revealed themselves to be fear and laziness. I know them well, but I know myself better. And for that, I resolve to tirelessly defend myself against them so that I may continue to boldly act out the absurd, perhaps overwritten, but neverendingly thrilling dream-come-true that is my history.
Yes, my gratitude overflows from every pore, but I cannot yet indulge in a curtain call. The next scene is about to start and I can not wait to discover its terrific twists and tantalizing turns as so I devise.