Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I should say that about a week before I flew, I took my girls to Target and Trader Joe's to fill a suitcase for the trip. Lest you misunderstand, it is not me who has difficulting living without the wares these stores provide. I was presented with a wish list by my friend, who had spent more than a decade living in the states and had gotten quite attached to some of the things she can only get here. Certain cleaning products that make her life significantly easier can only be purchased at Target. Our favorite Weight Watchers indulgence, Junior Mints, simply do not exist in the UK. And let's don't forget the children. Packets of macaroni and cheese are pretty hard to come by, at least those that are as inexpensive and tasty as Trader Joe's brand. And Laffy Taffy? Forget about it. Cheerios? The ones you get in England are super-sweet and hard to stomach if you've been brought up eating American-style ones.
I was more than happy to arrive bearing a suitcase stocked with comfort items. My girls were thrilled to be included in the shopping, especially because they weren't joining me on the trip. Unbeknownst to me, Bubba packed a little something extra in my suitcase, too. I was so busy visiting and soaking up every minute of time I spent with my friends that I didn't even notice until Day 3. By then, we were on our way to spend the day at Brighton Beach and I decided to bring him along. Yup, "him." Apparently, Bubba worried that I might find myself a bit lonely, so he tucked a very naked male Barbie doll into my luggage.
From walking the pier to playing the carnival games, riding the rides and gorging ourselves on cotton candy and fish and chips, naked Barbie man had a terrific time. To cap the day, we headed for the rocky beach to sift through the wave-worn pebbles and look for treasures.
Because the kids had such a tremendous time posing him and taking photos, I left him behind for an extended stay. So far, I hear he's been to Legoland for some more adventure. I can only hope they take him shopping for pants at some point....
Although we spent a lot of our time traveling and acting like tourists, the part of my trip that I enjoyed the most was spending time with everyone just hanging out. The kids honored me by requesting that I read them bedtime stories and help tuck them in. We played at the park together and made up goofy jokes. Tulip sat in my lap on the couch time and again, despite the fact that she grew too big for that about three years ago. I have known these amazing creatures since the day they were born and getting to spend time with them, listening to them laugh, helping prepare their meals, chasing them on the playground, and listening to their voices as they talked to each other after they'd been put to bed was absolutely priceless.
Oh, so was the ride back to the airport, but you'll have to stay tuned for that....
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Turns out, Dickens' World is a bit overwhelming, too. The creators did a tremendous job of re-creating an authentic Victorian street scene, complete with street urchins, dress-up clothes for the little ones, a haunted house, and an orphanage with a cruel headmaster. The grown-ups quite enjoyed ourselves, but I daresay the kids will need a few more years to fully appreciate this spectacle.
Day 3: Tourists in London!!! Can I just say that every time I travel to Europe I am astonished, overwhelmed and entirely pleased with the quality of the transit options? We spent less than we would have for a nice breakfast on transit tickets for the day. One pass allowed us to board a train to London (a clean, fast, efficient train), ride the Tube as much as we wanted, and take a riverboat on the Thames to the Tower of London. Simple, fast, cheap.
We rode the train with the commuters - businessmen talking on their cell phones, ladies with their lattes headed to the city to do some shopping, and other tourists like us, and emerged less than an hour later in London. A quick Tube ride landed us just beneath the famed Big Ben. We snapped photos, stood on the bridge and watched the river traffic below us, and headed for the London Eye - an enormous ferris wheel lodged on one side of the River across from the Houses of Parliament.
The entire ride takes about an hour as you slowly roll up and over the city and the river. We were lucky enough to be blessed with a clear day and we could see the whole of the city. Looking out over this amazing juxtaposition of ancient and modern while standing in the company of some of the people I love the most in the world was absolutely majestic.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Instead, we shuffle like sheep, prodded along by time schedules and the unknown, filing down steps, cascading onto moving sidewalks, assembled around a baggage claim turntable hoping to recognize our suitcases so that we can wheel them through customs and out into the entrance of the terminal where hundreds of people are waiting for hundreds of others who have come off dozens of flights that were late because it snowed in London for the first April in Her-Majesty-knows-how-many-years. Slightly more impersonal.
Having said that, when I finally saw that shock of blonde hair that marked my dearest friend's head, I felt instantly warm. It was I who squealed and momentarily wobbled between dropping my hard-won luggage and running to her or simply shouting her name and having her come to me. We met in the middle. The hug that felt so real, so familiar, erased the last eight months of separation, and her daughter wiggled inbetween us, her head now at the height of my collarbone. We were together again!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Examining my recent past, I discovered that for me, forgiving has nothing to do with anyone but me. The reason I have found it so hard to forgive is because I am disregarding one of Don Miguel Ruiz's "Four Agreements"; don't take it personally. Regardless of the fact that certain acts performed by others have impacted me in significant, sometimes traumatic ways, I don't believe that I can honestly point to a one that was intentionally designed to harm me. Perhaps the doer was making a rash decision, a poor decision, a thoughtless decision. In many cases, there is no argument that they ought not to have done what they did. In all cases, it's not my judgement call to make.
Perhaps I deserved more consideration. Perhaps I deserved an apology. Neither of those things will retroactively 'fix' the difficulties I experienced as a result of an action someone else took. Hanging on to resentment or anger or emotional pain won't change anything, either. Forgiveness, for me, is the act of letting go of the notion that I was at the center of the act. Letting go of the idea that the motivation for another person's actions was solely to hurt me personally. Letting the negative energy flow from me and be replaced with compassion for that individual and the guilt they may feel or the hurt they were experiencing that led them to make such a choice is a more powerful healing tonic.
Forgiveness is for me. The peace I feel after acknowledging that it is possible to learn and grow and move forward is so much bigger than any anger or hurt I might have felt before. I am hopeful that my forgiveness might offer others some solace or comfort if they feel that they have harmed me in some way, but that is not my motivation. Forgiveness is about finding perspective and balance in my own heart.