This is a chronology of how I managed to leave Utah and move to London in May of 2020. Enjoy!
November 2019: I start making a list of 100 life goals - something recommended by Randall Wright. The idea is that after about 15 stock-standard goals everyone considers part of a successful life, you actually stat opening yourself up to what God put you here on earth to do.
It's quite the exercise, and I highly recommend it.
As I'm writing my list, I look back over it and somehow "Live in London, UK" had made it on the page.
I didn't think much of it.
February 2020: I end a budding relationship with a romantic interest. I was enjoying living in Utah, but also just kept having the itch to move somewhere else. Nothing else is keeping me in Utah now.
There are two places on my radar: Arizona, and London. (Very different, I know).
I'm toying with the idea of London, looking up how managing my business from there would work, reading way too many articles about what it's like to live in London online, and chatting with my friend Ben about what to say at border control.
March 19, 2020: COVID-19 restrictions hit and I resign myself to working 10 hour days from my bedroom and starting a YouTube channel instead of moving.
Late March/April 2020: Decide I'm going to leave my marketing agency, Orthopatients, to go full time on YouTube.
Early May 2020: After about a month and a half of "being a YouTuber", I'm wrestling with a lot of mindset (am I qualified, what if I lead people astray, my philosophies on things change every week, how can I give advice to others?).
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Spend five hours straight listening to "How will you measure your life" by Clayton Christensen. I'm having all kinds of doubts about where I'm taking my life.
Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 9:35pm
I'm praying by my bed when of the sudden I get this clear impression: "Stop making videos, and go to London. Now."
I was a bit floored to be honest. Was God not aware that there was a worldwide pandemic happening?
Go to bed calm, but wake up in full panic mode. Spend about 5 hours agonizing over whether I should buy a ticket or not. I decide not to, that God is crazy and I will just stay in Utah.
Sunday, May 10, 2020 - 9:35pm
Same prompting, same place. More urgency.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Again, spend all day thinking about why it won't work.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Finally cave and buy a $411 ticket from Boston for June 1 at 9pm (Free flight to Boston from SLC courtesy of the Southwest Business Card)...telling myself "The worst thing that can happen is I get there, they tell me I can't enter the country, and then...I go back home and I'm out about $1500"
Not the end of the world.
The next couple weeks:
Casually mention to friends that I have a flight scheduled to London and have no clue how long I'll be there. Get weird looks from lots of people.
Tue, May 26, 12:25 PM
Subj: Your Icelandair flight is cancelled
Email: Dear customer,
"We understand this is a time of great uncertainty. As the world adapts to unprecedented challenges, it is necessary for us to adapt our flight schedule.
We wish to let you know that your forthcoming Icelandair flight has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation."
Call Iceland Air to ask what can be done.
Their response: "You can call us 48 hours before your flight leaves to see if we can reroute you, so that would be Saturday at about 9pm. Have a nice day!"
The next 4 days:
Make 0 preparations to go to London because I'm pretty sure God was just testing me.
Saturday, May 30, 9:12pm
Vaguely remember I can call to see about getting my flight rerouted to another airline tonight. Step out of a family game night briefly to make the call.
"Hello? Yeah I was told I could call and see if you had any way to reroute my flight 48 hours before it happened?"
"Ok what's the reference number? Ok...yep. We can put you on a direct flight from Boston to Heathrow on British Airways and the flight leaves 30 minutes after your original flight."
"Ummm...okay. Yeah let's do it"
"Alright, that's all scheduled for you. Check your email for more details."
Sunday, May 31
Spend about an hour in the afternoon packing as much as I can into one duffel bag and a backpack, and putting everything that's mine into my room so my dad can easily grab all my stuff from my room after I'm gone. Let's do this!
Monday, Jun 1 6:30am MST
Drive to the Salt Lake Airport, board plane for Baltimore
1:05pm: Land in Baltimore
Get a text from my Trek Ma who I haven't spoken to in 5 years. Text was something like this:
"I ran into your mom today and she said you are on your way to London! John and I just got back from living in England for the last 2 years! We have a couple people we can connect you with to help you find housing."
Put your feet in the river jordan...and the water will part.
Land in Boston Logan, work meeting from the food court. Walk through the streets of Boston on my layover, which (unbeknownst to me) were full of rioters the night before protesting police brutality. Extremely eerie.
Return to the airport. The British airways staff is so nice to me at check in! I begin thinking this won't be too bad.
Receive the following Whatsapp message:
"Hi Keaton, my name is Nathan. I'm a friend of John and Mary. We got a message saying that you're traveling to London. Do you have any plans? Is there anything we can do to help? We live about an hour's train ride from Central London. We're still in lockdown here although it's starting to ease and the quarantine doesn't start until next week. Hotels and restaurants are still closed. Nathan"
You probably have this link already but just in case:
[Link to uk border control website]
Board plane to London, again some of the nicest people EVER on the British Airways staff. Eat dinner, fall asleep watching the Mr. Rogers movie.
June 2, 8:30am BST
Land in London.
Decide I should read what the border control link says.
I don't have the exact words, but it was something like. "If you are arriving in the UK from any country, you must self isolate for 14 days starting June 8, 2020."
8:56 am BST
Walk up to the automatic turnstiles and try to scan my passport praying silently for an uneventful experience at border control.
First turnstile declines my passport, second one does the same. They direct me to an agent.
9:00 am BST
Agent takes my passport.
“What’s the reason for your visit?”
“I’m visiting a friend” (I say with all the courage I can muster)
super surprised face
The next 15 minutes happened in a vortex of time, this is most of what I remember:
“You’re aware that the country is in lockdown?”
“I was told schools are opening up and that other things were opening up a bit as well”
Another incredulous look
“Who is your friend?”
“His name is Chris”
“How did you meet him?”
“Online, we are in one of the same online courses”
“Where does he live?”
“I can't remember, the name...let me look it up...Orpington"
"Can I have his phone number?"
"How were you planning on quarantining while you were here?"
"I was just thinking we would be able to quarantine together..."
"You can't 'quarantine together' there is no such thing!"
“Is there any other reason for this visit?”
“How long are you going to be here?”
“About a month”
“Do you have a return ticket?”
“No I don't”
Guy looks like he’s going to rip my head off
“I just wasn’t sure how everything was going to play out with the airlines given the current circumstances”
“A month is quite a long time, how are you planning on supporting yourself”
“I have savings”
Looks down at my passport then back at me
“Ok, based on what you’re saying you’re not going to be let into the country”
“Go ahead and take a seat, I need to talk to my manager”
5 minutes later
Guy walks up to me and says:
"You said you had savings, can you prove that?"
"Yeah, let me pull it up..."
"Ok...your friend isn't picking up by the way."
Pretty soon there were four British officers writing all my information in the computer, description, name, suspicious activity. In the middle of this, the manager asked me,
"Strange Time to be traveling isn't it?"
I still can't believe what I said:
"Yeah I thought so too..." (Referring to God telling me to come 😂)
After about 5 minutes of this, the original officer called me up, gave me my passport, and said "Ok, technically the 14 day quarantine order doesn't start until next week so we can't deny you entry. Just...try to stay away from people." He motions for me to go through the gate and I walk into the UK!
Try to figure out how to get a train into London. I can't get the ticket machine to take any of my American cards (turns out I just needed to use contactless payments haha). Ask a group of what sound like Americans if they know what to do. One of them gives me 15 GBP in cash. I'm very grateful, but I can't pay for the tickets in cash so I just put the bills in my wallet
10:30am Board the train to Paddington station. Worry nervously about how I'm going to get out of the station
11:00am Get off the train at Paddington. No one asks for a ticket, nothing really happens at all. I just walk out into the streets of London with my backpack and my duffel.
11:05 Wander through the streets of London trying to figure out how to get to Vauxhall area where I'm staying with a friend for a few days. Walk through Hyde Park, get lost multiple times. Finally ask for directions from some nice looking girls on the street. They direct me to a tube station.
12pm Somehow convince the people at the tube station to let me in for free because "my American cards don't work" (I didn't know I was lying haha)
1pm Finally arrive at my friend's place completely in shock. I had not only made it to the UK, I made it into London, across the city and had a place to sleep for the next few days while I got things sorted.
June 3, 4:00am, Westminster Bridge, London
Meet up with a girl I had been talking with before I came over. We'll call her Jane. This is the only time she can hang out because she's nannying and she is with the kids all day. I was invited to watch the sunrise, but Jane's friend (who I went to high school with funnily enough) is actually taking pictures of her for her graduation announcements. I watch as non-awkwardly as I can and try to engage in conversation for the next 2 hours.
After about 1 million photos, Jane asks me if I want to see Notting Hill, where she is staying. I say "uh yes of course". I rent a city bike, and she takes her scooter (not motorized) and we take what had to be the most romantic bike ride of my life.
We arrive at Jane's house and she gets really awkward. We say goodbye and I ride my bike home.
June 5, 7:00pm
After bailing on them once (because they are girls and I don't want to live with them) I go visit two people from the YSA ward who are looking for someone to live with them. The only reason I'm there is because Nathan (Mary's friend from Colchester) told me that they are really good girls and I shouldn't be worried about living with them - it's not weird. I can't get over living with girls and tell them I'll probably just end up staying with my other friend in Vauxhall.
Sunday, June 7, 9:00pm
Laying in bed and I can't shake the feeling that I know I should go live with those girls. I've already committed to staying with my friend in Vauxhall, but it's one of those feelings I can't shake.
Monday, June 8, 7:30am
I try to explain why I won't be living with Jack (pretty sure I just offend him). Grab everything I own and make my way to the station. Take the tube to Cricklewood, ring the door and the girls let me up. Unpack in my new home.
It was the moment when I got off the train in Paddington that I felt truly invincible. It was one of those moments where, if were in a movie, the narrator would have said "This has been a presentation of: Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ" and it would have faded out with a cool shot of me going into London.
You can get a lot of things for free if you just ask
The Lord knows what he is doing and will prepare you months or years before he needs you to do something.
Everything I thought would go wrong, didn't go wrong. I could have saved a lot of time if I just trusted the promptings I received and went for it.