So I flew out of Seattle at 2 p.m. on Friday. By myself, as we hit some snags with the visa process. Saying goodbye to everyone and leaving on my own was easily one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. As I sat by myself at the terminal waiting to board, looking out through the glass windows at the tarmac, I realized this decision, this day, was going to change the rest of our life.

Jen plans to come out at the end of October (and we’re trying to talk my best friend Steve into making the trip with her). I cannot wait. I’ve always said Jen is my home, and wherever she is, I would feel at home. Even if it’s half-way across the world.

I booked the trip as soon as I heard my visa had been approved, which was only two days earlier. As a result, my trip was a bit complicated. First to Chicago (3 hrs, 40 mins). Then to Poland (9 hrs, 20 mins). Yes, Poland. Then finally to London Heathrow (2 hrs, 30 mins). Then, once I made it to London, I’d take a 90-min bus ride to Oxford.

All in all, my travels were pretty smooth. I sat over the wing on my long flight to Poland, which was amazing. I had just as much leg room as if I were in first-class. So I took full advantage of that and slept like a baby for most of the flight. The lady next to me was from Poland, but she’s been living in the states for the past nine years. She was very nice, and easy to talk to. She put salt in her tea instead of sugar, by accident. I told her I’d tell everyone back home that’s how the Polish enjoy their tea. I told her all about my wife, and how Jen worked with a lady from Poland.

I told her all about what I was doing. How C.S. Lewis had turned me onto Theology after reading Mere Christianity during my sophomore year of college. How I left home, a great job, and the most amazing family and friends for Oxford, to follow a dream of writing in a way that helped others see Christ more clearly. How I kind of thought it was crazy, but I also knew I was going after what I was passionate about, beyond anything else. She said she was so excited for us. And she was incredibly jealous. She had an eye cover she wore while sleeping that said, “Do Not Disturb.” I was jealous of her for that.

London Heathrow was a bit complicated, but not as bad as I had heard. I had some pretty heavy bags packed, which I threw on a trolly and pushed through the airport. They fell off. Several times. I was that guy. I laughed at myself and put them back on again and again. But I made it to my bus and was even able to fire off some “I’m here, safe and sound” e-mails before leaving. The bus driver was great. Big guy. Funny. I sat in the front seat (best view), and he asked me if I wanted to drive. I told him I’d let him take the first half of the drive, and then I’d finish. He nodded and took his seat.

It was raining (of course), so I watched the rain beat down on the windshield of the bus on the freeway as we made our way north. Driving through Oxford, my jaw was on the floor the entire time. I’ve been here before (last summer), but I was still blown away. The university is basically a bunch of colleges interspersed throughout the city of Oxford. And most of the colleges are incredibly old. They look like castles. We even drove by Magdalene College, which is where C.S. Lewis studied and later taught. Unbelievable. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be studying here…

The town was actually surprisingly busy, for this time of night (around 9:00 or so). Lots of people out. Walking around. Eating. I was dropped off at Gloucester Green, the bus station, and I quickly grabbed a cab. It was less than a mile drive to where we’ll be staying. 27 Northmoor Road (OX2 6UR, Oxford, UK). Very pretty neighborhood. Lots of big trees and big homes. I may have actually started singing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song in my head at this point. That’s kind of how I felt.

I was so happy to finally arrive. There was a note on the door left by the family I’ll be living with (they were out at a dinner), welcoming me to Oxford. It was rainy, of course, so the words were a bit smudged.

Our living space was built only a couple years ago. They refer to it as the Annexe. It’s basically an attached mother-in-law suite. It’s totally furnished, and it has everything we’ll need (kitchen, bathroom (complete with walk-in tiled shower and bathtub), washer and dryer, living room, office, bedroom…). Jane (the mother/wife of the family where we’re staying) stocked the kitchen with some staples for me so I had food when I arrived. Orange Juice. Milk. Cereal. Eggs. Bread and bagels. Peanut butter and fresh jam. Made me feel at home. Well, almost.

I took a hot shower, grabbed some tea and fired off some e-mails before Skyping with Jen. It was so nice to see her again and talk a bit before turning in.

Like I said, this is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I’m excited. There is so much unknown in store. I feel like I just picked up a book I thought I knew, only to find the next chapter was a complete surprise. Something I had never seen before. I have no idea what’s going to unfold in this next chapter, but I am excited to dig in.

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