I don’t know why you say “Goodbye”, I say “Hello, hello, hello”.
I Prefer to say, “See you soon.”
Because I will Philly, I will see you soon. Even if it’s 9 months, a year, two years from now, it’ll be so soon. My fifth flight across the Atlantic was the first one-way ticket I’ve ever purchased. Life right now is open-ended. I feel like I’m beginning to settle into that, to be excited by opportunity. The last time I boarded my flight to London, I was terrified by how much of it was unknown, what I was leaving behind and what a risk it was. It feels almost silly to say that now.
It wasn’t a risky risk, it was an opportunity. A chance to be on the other side of the world, be challenged, and meet people I would have never met otherwise. And that’s the thing I’ve discovered while being home – while being back with the people I missed, the people who have known me forever and while I’ve been away from all of the people I know in London – relationships and the people in my life mean everything. At the end of the day, having people to lean on, to get your mind off of things, to act silly and most importantly to share things with…well, it’s what I want to walk away with when all is said and done. I had to face some ghosts, shake a few skeletons out of the closet, but it wasn’t what resounded. More than anything, I allowed myself to begin letting go of past hurt. That’s what it is now…past. Being home has solidified that even from far away, I still have strong ties to the people who bring positivity and energy. I’m still in their life and they are still in mine. We think about each other often and stay connected as much as possible.
I felt it the most when I performed with Mayor Karen last weekend. It filled me with such joy to reunite with my improv team. Those guys are my family and playing with them again felt like nothing had changed. I was right back in the swing of things, on the same page. That’s what happens when you take the time to really get to know people, to invest. The audience was filled with a glorious array of the people who make up my life: friends from college, the Drexel Players, co-workers, old roomies, Norristownians, some crazy awesome musicians, fellow comedians and even my parents! Yup, that’s right Bruce and Nancy sat front and center. While I em-ceed the evening, I had to apologize frequently for what they were about to see their daughter do on stage. They were still proud.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that the name of the event was Mayor Rachel: Mayor Karen Presents Rachel Semigran. I didn’t come up with it, my dear old friend Michael Tomasetti did that. You can also thank him for the Semifans. Now that’s something I used to be embarrassed by – having my own fan club. But you know what? THAT’S AWESOME. My friends actually have a title to describe how much they love and support me. So, y’know having an evening in my honor, being the belle of the ball…I loved it. Who wouldn’t? Getting the right kind of attention is awesome. I soaked it all up.
While hosting I commented that during my last show, it ended with me in tears. I said I’d try not to cry this time, but I couldn’t make any promises because “I have a lot of feelings.” That one got a big laugh. It’s true! I have SO MANY feelings. I’m a sensitive gal, I really feel things and let them affect me – the big stuff and even the little stuff that I should probably let go a little more often…in any case, all of my feelings that night were that of joy, excitement, pride, warmth and lots of good humor.
The evening was followed by some good libations at ye olde Quig’s. I did my first pickle back. I’d like to say it’ll be my last, but I said the same thing about tequila, so I can’t make any promises. My parents hung for a little bit and it was really great to have them interact with so many different circles of friends. All of my worlds of Philly collided that night. Inflatable sharks were stolen, pool tables were danced on, a casino was bombarded, and cheesesteaks were had.
The next day I hopped on a bus to New York, had a delightful lunch with the divine Miss Katie Lynch. My sister Aly met up with us and when I hugged Katie as we left the restaurant, I knew I’d be hugging her again soon. Aly and I then headed off to Broadway and waited in line for The Book of Mormon standing room tickets. AND WE GOT THEM! I didn’t even mind standing outside for two hours. I had a blast hanging out with my sister and the show was hysterical. Worth every chilly minute and cold toes. Afterwards we went to Juniors for cheesecake. We were total tourists, even though Aly is a full-blooded New Yorker. And y’know what? It was some of the most fun we’ve had together. It made me want to do the same in London. See it anew.
On my last few days, I walked everywhere in Philadelphia. I took pictures of the city like a tourist…and I loved every second of it. It’s a great place. I saw the buildings, parks, little hidden corners, dive bars, theaters…I saw it all as it was. And I was happy to walk around in the cold. Happy to spend a lazy afternoon on Diana’s couch, watch the Discover Channel while we both studied. Then walk to the Italian Market to get ingredients for an incredible home-cooked meal. That’s life in Philly. Rather than lamenting having to leave, I was just happy to be in it. I spent my last evening at Meredith and Alex’s house. We sat on their big fluffy couches and looked at pictures from their wonderful honeymoon and ate yet another tasty home-cooked meal (I’m lucky to know so many Italians). It was a perfectly easy, relaxing evening. One filled with two people who are so filled with love.
Leaving felt less like leaving this time around. No big goodbyes and a lot less crying (aside from an unexpected bawl when my parents hugged me goodbye at airport security). I have people in London. I have a new, snazzy place to live. I have professors who know my name. I have spots I like to visit, bars to get a drink, cafes for some morning caffeine. The people though, they are what is most comforting of all. I can’t wait to explore more of London with them, to go on trips to the Lake District, frolic in Brighton, rent a car and go to Thorpe Park to ride the roller coasters, take a wild trip to somewhere exotic over the next holiday. I’m excited to share the experience with friends from home when they visit. A part of my life will travel back with them and I will have their energy and confidence to keep me going. Over some afternoon coffee, my friend Andrew said something that I will take with me for a very long time, he said, “Rachel, you can build anything, anywhere.” I’m a lucky friend.
Perhaps it’s the initial excitement of being back and soon the homesickness will hit again. Perhaps. I’m happy to be here, right now. And as I move forward, I will be resolute in staying positive. After having lunch with my dad on Friday afternoon, talking about my life in London and the past year’s struggles, my heartaches and everything in between… I realized that though it’s not always the easiest, taking the high road is always the right choice. It takes grace, kindness and understanding (Or if you’re William Blake, it takes Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love). I can’t always keep my chin up and head held high alone, but like I said before…I’ve got people on both sides of the Atlantic to help out with that. And I’d do the same for them. I’d do the same for you. Now. Right now I live in one of the most fabulous cities in the world. It’s time to live in London.