Thursday, June 28, 2007
That has to be the most-asked question on our trip to DC this past weekend, our first time back since we left in February, just 4 months ago. And that's probably why it wasn't weird. Connecticut Avenue is still under construction, they're just on a different lane. J managed to drive on the right side of the road for all but 5 seconds of the trip. Our condo looks absolutely fabulous and is being well cared for. Vace pizza is still delicious and greasy and still gives you a bellyache when you eat one (or three) too many slices. Nanny's has reopened and resurrected the Nannyburger, but I divorced them in my mind several months ago, so I don't even mind that what's on their menu is a FAKE.
Now ask if it was hard.
We attended the wedding of a dear friend, who was so beautiful that all I could muster in the few precious minutes one gets with a bride at her wedding was, "You're so pretty!" We laughed, we cried, we danced, and we saw the happy couple off as they dashed into their car through a cloud of bubbles. We decided they should quit their high-level jobs and go into vow-writing because they sure do know beautiful ways to say forever and ever, amen.
We spent time with grieving friends, hoping that offering our condolences in person and giving hugs could convey our sympathy, only to realize that there is little on this earth that can help them just now. We talked about the stupid things people say, then said some of them ourselves. We tried to offer an ear where we could and tissues as needed, and to at least be a distraction for a few hours. We gave quick hugs to avoid collapsing in tears together, and left feeling almost as helpless in person as we do from 3500 miles away.
We had dinner with our cooking club, which largely overlaps with our regular beach vacation crowd. We ate delicious food, caught up on gossip, and told silly stories. We dreamed of planning the next beach trip in Croatia. We played with the toddler, who's noticeably more chatty and adorable than she was just 4 months ago.
We've had a remarkably smooth go of it here in England. Deciding to come was hard, but the second we said it out loud it was Real and it was Right. Packing and moving was hard, but so's moving across the street. The plane flight in February was hard, but there was so much anticipation about what was to come that looking back wasn't an option.
It was at that dinner that I looked around the table at our friends sitting there, and thought of all the others that we visited with throughout the weekend. As I swallowed back tears, I fought the thought that I didn't want to get on that plane on Monday, that I want to stay stateside with the people we've grown to know over the last several years, with whom conversation is easy and natural. I thought about my good friends all over the U.S., and whether I'd see them in the next few years or whether I'll avoid it because seeing them for a few hours might be harder than not seeing them at all. All this and we didn't even see our families, save one niece (see previous reference to fabulous condo). We were remarkably not homesick before the trip, and I worried that our first trip back would only bring it on.
For once, I hate being right.
We think of each and every one of you often, the fun we've had, the storms we've weathered, the peace we have just knowing you're out there and we'll see you again soon. Heck, we'll even see some of you on our turf. We're having the adventures of our lives in England and know in our heads that it's an awesome opportunity and the right thing to do. I know that every time I walk out my door or think about the fact that 50 bucks and 2 or 3 hours gets me almost anywhere in Europe. It's just that sometimes our hearts disagree with that.
Sometimes, like now, it's hard.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Sunset: 9:20 p.m.
Sixteen hours and 42 minutes of daylight -- not too shabby. The longest day of the year still has 24 hours in it. Our June 21, however, is going to last 29. We're returning to DC for the weekend, so our westward flight will extend our day by 5 hours.
On the figurative side of things is the fact that, ONCE AGAIN, Maxjet has cancelled our flight. We're rescheduled on a different flight on a different airline out of a different airport. As I type, we're on the bus to Heathrow. We'd wanted to check out the bus sooner or later, but maybe not before an 8-hour flight. It picks up just 3 blocks from our house and, with stops, takes two an a half hours. (It would take an hour and a half driving directly door-to-door.) And, since what Maxjet told us, "Just turn up at Heathrow and give Virgin Atlantic your name and they'll put you on their flight in first class," has, oh, I don't know, abut 742 ways to go awry, we're getting to the airport nice and early. So that will mean a few hours in Heathrow even before we get on the flight, which have I mentioned is 8 hours long? We arrived in England in February on Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class Cabin, which of course is amazing and lovely and space-agey, BUT STILL AN AIRPLANE. (Have I mentioned how much I love flying? Or have you picked up on that already?)
Alas, that is all the whining I'm going to do. Because at the end of that flight are 5 days that I'm really looking forward to, and a crapload of friends who we miss dearly. And also Chipotle burritos. And hopefully no leggings. But if leggings have come to DC, well, then, I've got a flight back on Monday. That is, if it doesn't get cancelled.
update, 4:30 p.m.: John just ordered a margarita. I just finished a beer and a lovely plate of cheese, smoked mackerel, green bean salad, and beets. We're sitting in the Virgin Atlantic lounge between the pool table and the wall-sized TV. The hair salon is on the other side of the lounge, just past the bar and deli. Extra hours? Bring it on.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
In a few weeks, the folks from our rival publication Nature will train up to Cambridge for the annual match with Science. My office head wanted me to get in some hitting, fielding and pitching (known as bowling) practice before we lost yet again (Nature has a much bigger staff to draw on in the UK than Science does). So he, his son, another father-son, and about 3 more kids taught me how to play. It's a bit like baseball but the rules and terminology take some time to master--after about an hour or so, I largely had the basics down. My colleague's teeange son got me out on my first pitch (I swung and missed and the ball knocked over the wickets behind me). But they took pity and gave me another chance--I then scored about 30 runs before they declared me out so others could bat. I still don't have the hang up bowling. One whips the ball overhand but can't bend the arm to throw--plus one usually bounces the ball into the batting box, because a ball that doesn't bounce is easy to hit.
Stay tuned for futher exciting cricket updates--jt
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Outside the Globe
Thursday, June 7, 2007
We should have ridden around Grantchester a bit more. Near as I can tell, it consists of three pubs and a post office. We chose a pub called Rupert Brooke, which we had heard good things about. There was plenty of outdoor seating, which was great since I'm allergic to the indoors on 70-degree, sunny days. We got one beef and one pork roast dinner. Here's what we got:
This was also served with boiled broccoli, carrots, and leeks. Add a pint of beer, some coffee, and three Sunday newspapers, and you too will fall in love with Sunday roast. No chasing people out to turn over the tables here -- you can stay as long as you like. Like to try this at home? Here's some Sunday roast ideas here, here, here, here, here, and here.
What topped off the afternoon was that we meandered back home clockwise, as opposed to the more direct anti-clockwise, as they say here. This took us up around Jesus Green, where we happened upon a little jazz in the park.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Well, there was tons of something.
It was quite a site, and definitely good people-watching. It was much more like Woodstock than your average weekend fair in the park. It was made more rowdy by the fact that the kids (all kids -- primary, secondary, college, university) were all off for midterm break this past week and have to go back on Monday, so this was the last hurrah for the older ones before they go back to school. I haven't seen so much Smirnoff Ice since ... well, for a while.
The main attraction is the music -- there are several music tents that have different themes. We stopped and listened in the acoustic tent, then in another tent that had a good band -- until they started singing. Our favorite was probably an almost-ska band that rapped. They had a sense of humor despite it being 100 million degrees in their tent. However, since we don't know any small bands, we didn't bother getting a program (had to pay for it). We probably should have just picked a tent and sat in it for a while.
Here are a few girls dressed as strawberries. Them and one vendor selling little plastic cups of strawberries represented the extent of the strawberry presence at the fair.
But one whole corner of the common was devoted to alternative healing. Didgeridoo massage, anyone?