Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hey Todd, did you know that "blog" is short for "web log"?

I was up at an ungodly hour this morning saying goodbye to the friends who've been staying with us since last Wednesday (insert collective "so that's where you were" here). After they left in a flurry of sippy cups and final potty trips and passport checks and farewell hugs, I climbed back into bed thinking how empty this place felt with only 4 of us in it once again.

This past week, we've been the slightly-less-than-gracious hosts (because who the hell can be gracious 24 hours a day with so many small children underfoot?) to good friends from our NJ days. Our friend Todd had a series of meetings to attend right outside London this weekend, and after an insane amount of arm twisting and downright groveling on my part, his wife Lauretta decided to bring the kids along for a little British holiday. I can't imagine what she was thinking (I will now confess, despite my constant assurances to her that it would all be a snap, that I would probably never have had the chutzpah to travel with my kids that way), but boy am I glad she was willing to take the plunge.

Lauretta was my first Mommy friend. I met her in a postpartum exercise class which I joined when Julia was about 7 weeks old and recognized her as a kindred spirit nearly immediately. (I dropped the class as soon as I'd met some other new moms. It was never really fitness I was after.) Paul and Todd clicked equally well, as did our girls, and when we both gave birth to sons a few years later, the boys became fast friends as well. Our families were so well suited to each other that when they announced plans to move to Connecticut about a year and a half ago, I knew that every member of my immediate family would feel the loss. I was right; we've stayed in touch sporadically and they remain the kind of friends with whom it's just easy to pick up where you left off, but we've definitely missed having that kind of easy friendship right around the corner.

Showing them around town this weekend was fun, and it reminded me -- as having guests always does -- of just how far we've all come in terms of acclimating to London life. But the very best part of the visit by far was seeing everyone gel so nicely, even after the year and a half we've spent apart from each other. There was literally not a single argument between any of the children for the entire duration of their visit, which as every parent of a 3-5 year old knows, is probably a near impossibility. Evan and Owen drove trains and raced cars and dressed up in Wellies and giggled incessantly for 5 days straight. Julia and Anna created incredibly imaginative storylines, produced a plethora of art projects and giggled incessantly for 5 days straight. You would never have known watching these kids interact that they had ever spent a moment apart.

Granted, no one wanted to go to sleep at night and the exponentially increased requests for potty trips and ice cream breaks and shelter from the wind made serious sightseeing little more than a pipe dream, but none of that spoiled our visit. When Covent Garden wasn't working for the kids, we just hopped a double decker bus out of there and let the cool mode of transportation serve as their entertainment for the next hour. When a race out of Regents Park to avoid a sleet storm left the kids tired and cranky, we just ducked into a Hungarian Patisserie for enormous bowls of ice cream. And when everyone finally passed out at night, we just opened more bottles of wine and commiserated over whiny children who fail to see bed as the great mecca of rest and rejuvenation that it truly is. Simply put, we enjoyed each other's company, even though I think a separate adults-only visit is in order if our friends ever want to actually see the city of London.

I don't know if Todd and Lauretta will ever want to travel with their children again after this experience, especially since by now they've gotten to Heathrow and realized that they left their stroller behind (best of luck getting through security and customs without something to contain Owen, guys...). I do hope that they'll be back here, as their visit was a true highlight of our London experience to date. But even if we don't end up seeing them again until we return to the States, I know for sure now that our time spent apart will just make for some interesting conversations when we next find ourselves together again. This weekend showed me irrefutably that true friendship does not require constant care and feeding to survive.

I'm always conscious of the fact that when this adventure is over, my family and I will have to return to the States and reinsert ourselves into a community that managed quite nicely without us around thank-you-very-much. I worry a lot about what's happened without us and what we haven't shared with people and whether it might turn out to be even harder to fit back into our old lives than it has been to create a new one for ourselves here. I've always hoped that with true friends, none of that would matter, but I've never been quite sure that would be the case and so I've worried about it nonetheless.

I'm going to stop doing that now.


Blogger Gina said...

::I've always hoped that with true friends, none of that would matter, but I've never been quite sure that would be the case and so I've worried about it nonetheless.

I'm going to stop doing that now.::

Good. I've found that to be the case with my good friends who have moved across the country. We just pick up as if we were never apart. Amazing how we can do that, huh?

5:50 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Laughter and love and true friendship, and, okay, ice cream, have ways of working magic, don't they? Ahh...

7:41 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

I can only imagine that you will be embraced when you "return to the fold" while all sit back at get togethers and enjoy your many stories of far off parts.

8:19 PM  

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