Excerpt from my travel journal:
Here I am in London:
(Megan, Me, and Caitlin)
It’s not my first trip here, and even though this is a vacation, it feels very much like coming home to a part of me that I’d forgotten. It was on my second trip to London, some twenty plus years ago, when I said yes to a marriage proposal. Insanity, probably some would say. My third trip to the UK saw me unpacking my bags in a country as foreign to me as English is to a person whose native language is Arabic. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. We are two countries divided by the language we have in common.
There wasn’t anytime for me mourn for my past life, the one I had left behind in sunny Southern California, where ground round wasn’t called mince, and sugar was just sugar, not icing or demerara sugar, or light and dark treacles, or having to be ever vigilant and mind the gap. I was on a new road, traveling an uncharted direction, on a path full of uncertainty. At the time, I wasn’t aware I’d be rewriting my charter, and discovering who I might become. There was no time to ponder. The girl I had been, I left behind. In London, she became a woman, a wife, and a mother, neither of the three were planned, but such is life. This new shiny English version of me carried on, not always calmly or knowingly, but I did redefine and eventually, I did bloom. My time there was too short, and I did leave without appreciating who I had become. That damn destiny was knocking on my door and it was time to travel again, this time to San Francisco.
The days turned into months, then years. Too much time had passed. It was time to return. On this trip, my daughter accompanied me, and even though she was born outside of London it in a town called Sidcup, she stepped off the plane with anticipation. Her home coming it wasn’t.
(why is she always taking pictures of me?)
It was an opportunity to glimpse into another world from which she could draw upon as she defines and writes her own charter. I wondered, as a mother does, if she realizes life is not as easy as a dot-to-dot diagram. It’s not set in stone or predefined. It’s not a Happy Meal. It just is. I watched her watch the world, curious to know what she thought about her place of origin. Would she find her voice here one day? Would she return? Would she be reckless as I had been? Would she get lost inside of her self only to return to her center even more enriched for the journey? Truth is I don’t know. I sighed, knowing like me, she had to find her own place in her world. I let my worries melt into the pavement as we tramped through the city streets.
(caitlin now and back when she first visited London)
In the storefront windows while walking the streets of London, I glimpsed the old me, the once shiny English version I had been. She was everywhere. Where have you been? She whispered. I’m a new woman these days, but the girl who I left behind in sunny California all those years ago and my English self, both are and always will be inside of me. I close this letter home knowing there will always be uncharted paths for me to take and all that is required is for me to take the first step, and of course, mind that damn gap, the one that sits between reality and my dreams. And to Caitlin, it will be the same for you. You to will need to mind the gap, but don’t worry too much, sometimes we slip between the shadows but never for too long.
An adventurer at heart