I’d heard she was a lovely lady, in fact, I’d heard she was absolutely charming and the opportunity to meet her could not be missed, but the day was cold, bitterly cold.
My ears ached, my nose was numb and my fingers stung inside the woollen gloves I wore. I’d pulled on enough layers. Under my coat I wore a jumper and a shirt, and below that, a thermal vest. But I hadn’t paid enough attention to the clothing I’d stepped into. I’d been careless, and together with all feeling below the hem of my coat, my legs had also lost any scrap of my attention.
I’d been living in the tropics for so long that I didn’t know what it was like to be really cold. I’d clasped the scarf I’d wrapped around my neck and pulled it up over my mouth, relishing the infinitesimal warmth my exhaled breath afforded my lips.
Not for the first time I thought I was crazy being outside. I could have been warm and toasty, snuggled up in front of a heater. My thoughts wandered and I saw myself lying in front of a log fire, it’s warmth embracing me like a lover.
But the weather could not impede my trip that day. I had to meet her and it was now or never.
I had to cross the water. The thought of the wind merged with the speed of the ferry chilled me. I counted the icy fingers as they progressed up and down my spine, but as I stepped onto the ferry, a hint of warm air extended tender fingers to gently caress my face.
I exhaled a breath I didn’t realise I was holding and felt the weight of it lift as I sat to enjoy the ride.
I caught a glimpse of her as I stepped off the ferry. My heart began to beat faster, I could feel it pounding in my chest, echoing in my ears, and I quickened my pace.
As I rounded the corner, I was overwhelmed with unfamiliar emotions, drowning in unaccustomed feelings of patriotic pride. Salty tears stung my eyes. There she was, I caught my breath, all thought of the cold melting away as I basked in her majestic presence.
Yes, there she was, that resplendent Lady recognised as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy and in that moment, I felt part of a country I do not call home.
Click here to see her portrait.
In response to the blogging event Pick the World – United States of America