On Thursday afternoon I walked around the Bristol Harbor, a familiar walk that I’ve taken countless times. But this time, would be my last before permanently moving out of Bristol.
I thought about last September, on the second morning that I woke up in Bristol and went on a run around the harbor. I thought about how excited I was to find such a beautiful path to jog around. Moving from a typical American college town to a nautical English city, I was so overwhelmed at first. I missed the familiarity of my college town; Bristol was just so… for lack of a better word, so ‘city’. But when I found the harbor, I was so relieved to find some peace in the hustle and bustle of city life.
I thought about my fourth morning in Bristol, the morning my mom took a plane back home to the states after helping me move into my new apartment. I thought about how at that very moment it became so apparent to me just how far I was from home and from everyone that I loved. I thought about how terrified I was and how I questioned if I made that right choice to move abroad for graduate school.
And then I thought about how silly I was to have those fears because I thought about the incredible friends that I made in Bristol. I thought about our crazy nights spent wandering (stumbling?) around the harbor into the wee hours of the morning. I thought about when the four of us finished our group project and submitted it within the half hour it was due and then celebrated with a walk around the harbor, a cup of mulled wine, and a homemade apple crumble. I thought about my birthday dinner at a restaurant right on the harbor, where we stuffed our faces with sourdough pizza and fresh cider. I thought about how special I felt that night to be able to ring in year 23 with some of the best people that I’ve ever known.
I thought about the times I walked around the harbor to ease my racing mind. I thought about when I doubted my ability to balance writing my Masters dissertation with medical school applications. I thought about how I doubted myself completely; how I thought I didn’t stand a chance and that I would be rejected from every medical school that I applied to; how I thought maybe I should find a plan B. I thought about how the harbor took me in and calmed my fears; told me to stop doubting the what ifs and to for once, actually believe in myself.
I thought about February 17th and April 11th, and about October 25th and August 7th, both the birthdays and the anniversaries of the passings of two of my closest friends; because I walked around the harbor on those four dates, always during sunset. Because although time may dull some of the pain from loss, the pain never really goes away. But, I like to think that the sunset is a way in which our lost ones smile at us and wave to us and tell us that they’re okay. And maybe the way the wind blew as I walked around the harbor and how the breeze wrapped around me, well I’d like to think that maybe that’s the way our loved ones hug us from heaven.
I thought about the times I walked around the harbor simply because it was a sunny day. I thought about the Saturday and Sunday Harbourside Markets, and the raw beauty found within the chaos of trying to squeeze through the crowds. I thought about the many times I walked around the harbor simply because I was bored. Sometimes I would talk on the phone with friends or family from back home, sometimes I would listen to music, or sometimes I would just walk.
I thought about how the harbor walk has become a sort of sanctuary for me. And I thought about how excited I am to find my new walking path, my new sanctuary, when I permanently move to a new city in the US in July. I thought about how therapeutic walking can be; how a walk can both take us in and comfort us on our toughest days, and can celebrate and smile with us on our brightest days. I thought about how beautiful it is that the simplest of things, like a walk around the harbor, can sometimes be the only thing that we need.