A Letter Home

Excerpt from my travel journal:

Dear Family

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. 14

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.  IMG_0671
(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.


Brenda and Caitlin

Brenda and Caitlin

(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

Have you ended up where your thought you’d be at this juncture of your life?  Are you surprised?

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

34 thoughts on “A Letter Home

  1. Your daughter looks so much like you! Great story. New favourite life phrase: Mind the gap!
    Am I where I thought I would be? God, no! But when I think back on what I thought I would be … thank God. Thank God I took a few uncharted paths along the way.
    Astra recently posted….Summer Camp Rite of PassageMy Profile

    • Thanks much, Astra. I think she has the best of me, therefore the looks and all the sparkle. If not for the uncharted, we’d be dull. Now, we’re exciting because of the detours and potholes.

  2. Those old selves never really go away, they just fade into the background… until they get brought out again.

    I envy you this trip back in time with your daughter, to your old haunts. Just guessing, but surely it will be a trip you both will ALWAYS remember.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Mas-tur-BA-tion! Can Be Fu-unMy Profile

    • You are damn right, Bev, they never ever do. Mine are a part of me, and for this, I am surprisingly, happy. I was and will always be kind of nerdy.

  3. k~

    Your shiny self had pretty curly hair. Journeys that help us to remember where the seeds that once were planted and began their growth can be the little push we need to sow another row of changes. Even when the pathway is uncomfortable some glorious things can happen as a result of having taken the steps in the first place.
    k~ recently posted….AftermathMy Profile

    • K- Cafemidnight? I must check it out. Oh yes, that dreadful phase, and my one and old perm. Journeys do more then help us clear the cobwebs, they give us perspective. Mine did. I am grateful for this new, shiny view of my world.

  4. Loved this one. Places, people and memories are so very intertwined and jumbled in one’s lives. And the places in our memories are so different from the ones in real life but it’s definitely wonderful to see us in those places and the memories of the places in us. Life goes on.

    Enjoyed knowing a bit more about you, dear Brenda.

    Much love from Goa.

    Joy always,

    • Susan – much love back to you in Goa. This is the one of the wonderful benefits of social media, meeting people we would not know. Sadly, I was not able to make it to Goa when I was traveling in India. Maybe one day.

  5. I work in London, at Cannon Street, in a fabulous office that overlooks the Thames. I marvel most days that I get to work in such a place, despite a daily train commute from rural Kent. I’m glad you’ve been able to successfully mind the gaps so far – they are there for tourists, you know?
    Mulled Vine recently posted….Prelude 82My Profile

  6. So wonderful to travel with your daughter Brenda, I am sure she will have many grand adventures and develop a connection somewhere unique that she will one day bring her daughter to :) My daughter too was born in London and then we left before her 1st birthday. She keeps asking to go back there, she knows enough about it to want to experience the wonders that are there beyond it’s surface.

    Instead I took her and her brother to Istanbul, wonderful because it was an adventure for all of us, I realised it had been a very long time since I had visited somewhere unknown to me, these days return journeys are more common.

    I certainly could never have imagined that I would live where I do and that I would meet my father in Istanbul with my children for a weeks holiday, he and his wife spent a month travelling around Turkey and so we joined them to create shared, special memories. Memories I am sure my children will have forever, along with a few fabulous shopping souvenirs they had to bargain for!
    Claire ‘Word by Word’ recently posted….Istanbul Memories of a City by Orhan PamukMy Profile

    • Claire – I believe in my heart this is the beauty of life, the unknown and what we did not plan, and how it turns out to become our treasured memories.

  7. You speak to my heart, Brenda. As you say, travel is the best way to lose yourself and explore not only new cultures and communities but also the possibilities resting inside you. How lovely that you introduced your daughter to this experience that was already so much a part of you. I first went to Europe when I was 21, with friends, and we remained for a year of work and travel and the kind of fun that 20-somethings generate as naturally as breathing. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with packing bags, growing and learning, creating memories and establishing connections with people and places that has shaped and, in many ways, directed the paths I have followed. It’s a privilege and a joy.
    Thank you for sharing this letter home. You have certainly hit the mark with a lot of us by making that standard “tube” warning “Mind the gap” relevant and applicable in so many other ways. Brilliant! Welcome home.
    Patricia Sands recently posted….A story waiting to happen …My Profile

  8. What beautiful women! I love your reflection and observation about Caitlin. Yes, I’m surprised, sometimes shocked by where I am and what I’m doing. Writing was unthinkable, imagining myself as a suburban mom with two daughters, not even on the radar. This former inner-city kid couldn’t have fathomed living anywhere but Dorchester, or being married to a man from upstate Vermont. Seriously, a white boy from Vermont? Laughable.
    But here I am, trying to decided what we’ll we do to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in October, as I put the finishing touches on a cookbook I just wrote for my daughter’s Relay for Life team, an American Cancer Society fundraiser. My once painfully shy daughter, who wants to be a french teacher and school administrator. I wonder if life will turn out be as surprising to her as mine has been to me.
    Lynne Favreau recently posted….Letter to my Daughters: Real and ImaginedMy Profile

    • Lynne – many thanks. I look at her and think to myself, is she really part of me. You and me both, on the mom in the burbs, etc., Writing was something I did ‘in secret’. Now look at us. We’re soaring.

  9. I loved the photos and your poignant memories and hopes for your daughter’s future, Brenda. With this post, you really allowed us to see into your tender, loving heart.
    Did I ever imagine ending up where I am now? I don’t know that I ever would have dared to dream this big or speak it aloud. But, God knew my needs. He knew where He wanted me. He kept leading and guiding.
    So, here I am, a published author, married to the man of my dreams, and fulfilled in so many ways. Yet, still the “adventurer”, I keep moving on in my imagination, my writing, and my understanding.
    Beautiful, touching post, my friend. Thank you for sharing!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….Practice Makes (Almost) PerfectMy Profile

    • Thanks, Martha. I do love the art of writing letters, in any venue. I can imagine for many us that the life we live isn’t what we planned, it’s probably much better (not perfect) but as your say, glorious.

  10. I love love love London. It actually has a pulse. Don’t you agree?
    I can imagine you fit perfectly w/ the London culture, Brenda.
    Superb photos, too.
    Am I where I thought I’d be? HELL NO.

    Xxx LOVE.
    My Inner Chick recently posted….Once Upon A Time…My Profile

    • Kim – I do agree, whole heartedly. It’s a grand place to visit. I’ma already saving my pennies for another trip, destiny unknown.

  11. Oh in so many ways my life is not at all what I thought it would be at this stage of life – but that’s the fun of it! And the fright of it. And the wisdom picked up along the way. Isn’t it interesting, joyful, heartbreaking to watch our kids venture out into the world? I SO enjoy my kids as adults now – a whole new aspect to the relationship. What a great look back at a piece of your journey Brenda!
    Barbara recently posted….Zen at the BeachMy Profile

  12. I love reading your parenting posts, knowing you’re just one step ahead of me. Thanks for charting a course! Where I thought I’d be…not really, no. I didn’t ever really think about me or the future at all, so my life was a blank page. But I know I’m where I’m supposed to be-guess that’s all that really matters. Miss you!
    mamawolfe recently posted….I Took My Kids to Macklemore and They SurvivedMy Profile

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