Nothing epitomizes awe like sitting across from a friend and watching her as a new mom. Yesterday, I arrived and spent the day on the couch watching the ritual of baby Charlie: feed, sleep, play, fussy, feed, sleep, wake too soon, etc. Jayne and Charlie are pretty as a picture together, the exhaustion of his needs are there, but there is also immense love. I may not have kids of my own, but I so value being a part of the journey with my friends, even if from afar.
When Scott came home, it was the other piece of the family puzzle, watching the family rhythm. Turns out the Friday rhythm is putting Charlie in the baby bjorn strapped to Scott and through the woods to the pub. This is a real earn-your-dinner kind of evening walk. A half hour later and we were sitting outside sipping and drinking. I met a gorgeous St Bernard, and ate some yummy sweet potato fries. Then, it was a work-off-your-dinner walk through the woods. Half way through, Charlie let it be known he was ready to eat NOW. So in the most idyllic little path crossroads, Jayne fed Charlie. Both the walk there and back, we discussed Game of Thrones (tv series and books) and the various possible storylines. It's fun to be nerds together in the middle of the woods!
Today was another incredible day. Candice came up from London, and we all went to Hatfield House together. None of us had ever been, so it was a new experience all around. I've always wanted to go, as it is where Queen Elizabeth I spent her childhood. Think Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. Unfortunately, some rude rich person had booked the old palace (Elizabeth's house) for a wedding. I mean, how rude. So, we contented ourselves with the big new (1611) house, the antique market, the lovely gardens, and the way-too-long walk to the tree where Elizabeth found out she was queen.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for walking inside and out. What was even better was being there with friends who also drool over historical houses and gardens. Charlie did quite well all day. It's the life, being pushed around in a pram all day. Someday I'll come back and see inside the old palace, but we did get to see the gardens from afar and the musicians playing some lovely classical music-and some strange covers of rock songs.
We saw Candice off back to London and came home for a wonderful dinner of roasted veggies and tofu (lamb for them). Again, lovely. Jayne and Scott went into get-Charlie-to-bed mode, and I relaxed into the nice California Zinfandel Scott poured. Scott and I chatted while Jayne was giving Charlie his late feed, then he crashed, and I watched the end of Eat, Pray, Love. Last night I caught he beginning and tonight I caught the end. While my romance happened in Chicago, not abroad, it made me miss Todd and appreciate the other lovely moments of travel.
The waiter in a Dubrovnik who had so many tables that he kept forgetting about us, bringing us wine on the house and saying, "you are on vacation. You should be relaxed."
The woman who politely told me not to pronounce the second 'w' in Welwyn Garden City.
The schoolgirl in a hijab that pointed me towards Kings Cross when I couldn't orientate myself.
The American flight attendant who figured out he was lost the same time I did on his way to Trafalgar Square. We helped each other get there.
The friends who feed me so well that i wish I could pay back the generosity immediately by dragging them all to Chicago.
My journey may not be as romantic as Elizabeth Gilbert's journey (though hers wasn't easy for sure), but it's my own.