“Knickers Abroad; a multiple journey”
Rose D. Kaye
For a complete list of chapters in numerical order please go to this page.
‘First Day Blurs’
A tasty lunch of sandwiches and tea served at Ann’s black marble-top kitchen table.
Unpacking the suitcases, hanging the clothes.
Arranging our stuff in the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. (Think George Carlin)
Brief phone calls to my blogger friends, Jo and Drizel, telling them that I had arrived. Drizel promptly called back from work and we chatted a bit making plans to meet the following Saturday. Jo emailed me and I expressed my deepest sympathies for her father’s failing health.
Brian insisted on going out, so Ann gave us a quick driving tour within the local area, along with lessons in parking on the tight streets. The post office was closed for lunch, no postcard stamps, and the health food store hadn’t received the special order of chocolate rice milk for Brian. Also stopped in the local realty office as Ann was thinking of moving house. Talk about sticker shock! The prices were astronomical.
Ann also showed us her neighborhood and the numerous Underground stations that offered convenient access to the center of London.
Sleep in a wonderful queen size bed with cotton duvets. Three hours of blissful nap.
A shower, dressy clothes followed by a light snack and pleasant conversations before the family dinner.
Ann with two of her three children; Rachel and Jamie along with his new bride, Lucy.
I introduced myself and chatted briefly. I talked about my blog, my poetry and writing this book.
They seemed quite taken by me, especially Lucy and relieved that I was actually normal.
“Well Rose this chapter certainly made me laugh. I get a vision of the three of you wandering around with glazed eyes and trembling limbs.”
“In truth Dewy, you’re not far off. The excitement and wonder I felt was tempered by the fatigue in the body. I think Brian would be a better judge of the afternoon than me.”
“I don’t know Rose, I believe you’ve captured the essence quite well. I enjoyed the quick tour of the neighborhood. Ann took us to several local shops and pointed out various landmarks. And of course, parking the car was an adventure. How about you Diane? Did you have any different views of the first day blurs?”
“Actually Brian, I do. I remember vaguely the harrowing drive to Ann’s house. I marveled at how well and fast the local drivers were on the narrow and curving roads. Which was thrilling, in fact, like a theme park ride. After lunch, I was so in need of a nap. However, between being wound up from the flight, meeting Ann, plus the time difference and not catching a wink of sleep on the plane, I lay there and stared at the funky light fixture on the ceiling. My mind was buzzing.”
“What were you ruminating over Diane?”
“Well Dewy dear, I have a slight tendency to worry about the future. I was concerned about the upcoming family dinner and whether we would be welcomed. I was in some physical discomfort as my legs were swollen from the flight. I also fretted about the schedule we had made and the outing to Greenwich the next day. I was already troubled that my frailty would ruin our vacation.”
“Ann, I need to ask you here, how were you feeling about having your children over to meet these friends from America you’d met via the internet?”
“Brian and Diane had heard so much about my family and my children had heard so much about them, how could this trip be complete without all of them meeting and putting faces to names? I was really looking forward to everyone meeting.”
“So your children were excited about meeting them Ann?”
“Yes they were, Dewy, everyone got on really well and we all had a really lovely evening.”
“Rose, did Ann’s children know about you? About being a multiple personality?”
“Yes they did Dewy, I had insisted before we came that Ann explain a bit about me. I was not going to be silent after all and I wanted everything to be out in the open. In the end, it all went well and they accepted me unreservedly. It’s a credit to Ann that her children are so intelligent and loving.”
The first day in London drew to a close near midnight and as Brian digested the Shabbat dinner, I jotted down some notes. The area where Ann lived was a series of villages that had grown together over the centuries. The roads were twisting and narrow and followed old paths and trails. Each village center contained the basic shops while the larger retail boxes were located near major highways and junctions. There was a lot of construction and renovation of the housing in the area, but each village varied widely as to the type available. Towards the Underground station that was nearest to Ann’s house, the predominate housing type was two-story row houses with tiny front spaces used for parking or a small garden. In other areas, single-family detached homes located in planned square neighborhoods were also being busily expanded. Around the village center themselves were taller apartment buildings, both for let and for purchase. These were the most expensive, save for larger rambling estates, but throughout London, the closer to the Underground you lived, the more expensive the dwelling.
Ann’s cosy mews was also a planned development and in order to maximize space, the streets were narrower than we were used to in America. The facades were all white with timber accents and the attached garages had been converted to living spaces in many of the townhouses. Ann had expanded her kitchen and washroom and parked her car in the short driveway. Out back there was a small fenced-in area that residents could use for a garden or for entertaining. Ann had grass and some potted plants, not that there were blooms or anything, far too cold. Despite the close quarters her neighbors were quiet and there was no through traffic to bother us. The three bedrooms upstairs were small and with limited closet space, extra wardrobes were pressed into use. Our guest bathroom was very bright with glossy white tiles and fixtures with black accents. Her entire home was white with beige carpet and wood floors, but despite being neutral tones, her residence exuded warmth and charm. Carefully selected pictures and decorations brought color and personality to the individual rooms. Ann has impeccable taste, if on occasion off-beat, and her sense of style is casual elegance with a dash of sass.
I really had a great time at dinner. Even though I didn’t say much to Ann’s children, they did have questions for me. I didn’t mind in the least their curiosity and I think that because Ann accepted me, they found it easier to understand. When we are with friends, asking a question of Rose will elicit a response from me, unless I don’t wish to speak. In that highly unlikely event, Brian will act as my mouthpiece… if I can trust him that is. As our eyes closed, already Saturday morning, the welcome I’d received gave me such high hopes for the remainder of the trip. Even though the trip didn’t turn out to be all that I’d hoped, that first Friday night dinner will always be more than a blur to me.