Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last views of London

Big Ben

I'm already home, feeling the surreal time warp one experiences with air travel. Here today, gone tomorrow. Odd that just two mornings ago I was driving on the left side of the road in the back of a classic black London cab and yesterday I was on the right side, driving my own minivan to the Santa Rosa farmer's market with the boys. Whew!

My whirlwind week in London was wonderful, emotional, and too short. Erica and I had many heartfelt talks, some easier than others, and got to know each other better. This was one of my goals for the trip. Our lives have been so disjointed until now, and as much as I had dreamt of a seamless reunion, of course reality is that the joy is mixed with pain. It's almost impossible for us to connect or reconnect without touching on some of the hardest and most difficult memories and experiences of our own lives. We have 18 years separating us in age and thousands of miles in distance. I think we both wish we could have another chance to be together, to learn from each other and to know each other. Unfortunately, that seems like a slim chance, and that knowledge made the week feel even shorter.  I spoke with her yesterday morning and we both agreed it seemed almost like a dream, here and gone in a wisp. The only evidence of my presence there in that sweet brick cottage was a stack of knitted gifts and the fact that she now knows how to knit as well! (She was quite the enthusiastic student.)

Spending time with Gabi was another goal, of course, and that was pure sweetness. She is the easiest, happiest, and calmest baby I've ever met. Not to mention being one of the cutest, of course! And, man, does she look good in that hat!

I spent three days tooling around London proper; one by myself and two with Erica, Mike and Gabi. London is so full of culture I imagine you could live there for years without really seeing everything. Sunday M and E drove me all over town to just see as much as possible. We did stop in Marylebone, a fairly posh neighborhood that housed some great restaurants and shops.  Visited the Cath Kidston store and went into a cutsie pink coma (that stuff is great in small doses I decided...a whole store was a bit MUCH). I loved seeing Big Ben, the Parliament, and Westminster Abbey even as we drove by in the quintessential London drizzle. And we ended the day in Notting Hill where M and E insisted we visit their favorite cupcake shop to allay our low blood sugar. Monday we took Gabi to her first museum...the British Museum...and I saw the Rosetta Stone and Cleopatra's mummy, to name a couple amazing archeological treasures housed there. I could barely stand it without the boys at my side, so much was there that they would have loved!

Tuesday came 'round with alarming speed, and saw me hugging and kissing everyone goodbye. Then working my way through Heathrow and back on a plane to the states (this time, though, I was smart enough to pay the $50 upcharge to get more legroom...well worth it! I actually ended up with three seats to myself!). The boys (all 4) were quite happy to see me again and I have to admit I almost cried when the customs agent said, "Welcome home." Homesick?

I've been the recipient of many heartfelt "I missed you Mama"'s and tender hugs from all of them. And I have noticed an increase in the civility between them. Maybe a bit of a break from each other is a good thing now and then. Hmmmm...where should I go next?

I now have dreams, however, of returning to the UK with family in tow. There are quite a few castles, museums, and ruins I'd like us all to explore, not to mention Platform 9 and 3/4.

Kings Cross Station

The boys need to know their little cousin and she needs to know them, as well.

But for now I have these photo memories...enjoy!
Regent Street

Parliament in the rain.

Looking across the Thames to London Bridge.

The enclosed atrium at the British Museum.

A church spire in a London suburb.

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