I met them when they were this big.
Before my eyes, in a very short time, they grew a little.
And then a little more.
Until they were smarter than me.
It’s been a few years and I forgot they would continue to grow while I wasn’t looking – turning into globe trotting adventurers…
It was a dark and stormy night when the travelers arrived… (Ok, ok. You already know it doesn’t “storm” in London. However, it was my first real gully-washer in this here big city. Anyone who has known me a long time just laughed, snorted, and slapped their knee. At least in their head.)
These two lovelies came to visit after backpacking across twelve countries and just so happened to arrive on the day of the heaviest rainfall I have seen here so far. I think they may have been relieved to see a big bed with soft clean sheets (brand new sheets, I might add. Not to mention that there were vegan chocolate cupcakes, cheese and crackers, and sparkling wine to celebrate their arrival.) It dawns on me at this very moment that they may not have had dinner before arriving at my flat – and I didn’t offer to feed them a proper meal! I really didn’t think until this very moment that they probably didn’t have time to eat in the midst of their traveling. I had pasta and vegetarian sloppy joe fixin’s. I could have made them a hot, spiffing dinner. I could have taken them for fish and chips at The Slaughtered Lamb… What kind of hostess am I?! I might cry. Moving on.
They did quite a bit of site-seeing without me, but we managed a few fun things in our short couple of days!
We had sushi at Life.
We wandered across the Millennium Bridge to the Shad Thames area, where we had hot chocolate and a brilliant catching up.
We wandered back home through the City of London via the Tower Bridge, admiring the gorgeous moon.
We visited the British Museum.
We posed for pictures with the Tardis at Earl’s Court, had a pint at a pub nearby, we finally managed to see The Slaughtered Lamb, we sent a text to Levi Weaver, and we giggled. And then a taxi drove a little piece of my heart to the airport.
This time spent with these two brilliant and fearless backpackers caused quite a bit of self reflection. Sitting with them I felt so very old and uncool, but for brief moments so young and light. Moments of struggle and triumph from my little stint at teaching came flooding back. Images and emotions from the time I was their age danced behind my eyes.
I wasn’t an actual a teacher; it was more like I coached a competitive performing arts group. (Save the competition-negates-art debate for another day, just hear my story.) I was lucky enough to be driven to the brink of my patience, tried to the edge of my confidence, challenged beyond my imagination, broken and re-made a million times, to give and get back more love than I thought I could make or hold… Even though I wasn’t employed by a governmental body, I felt very responsible for a strict professionalism. I drew thick boundaries and always reassessed my relationships with the students involved as if I were on trial. (A few times I gave out too much advice and the anxiety quickly snapped me back to teacher-only mode.) But the fact remains that I fell in love with each and every one of them. It’s sort of the way that I feel about my beautiful, strange, sprawling, special, mysterious, and adorable nieces. Works of art. Amazing and magical creatures. They melt my heart and set me on fire. It’s fierce, I tell you.
The point is that I still nervously tiptoe to the line of friendship when it is extended by a former student – because those boundaries seem so much less clear now that the situation is so drastically different. But let’s face it: these girls are adults now, they are so much less impressed by what I say (so I can relax a little), and Kassi has become family over the past few years.
I miss my nieces. I am achy all over. Regardless, I am still thankful for the wonderful moments Kassi and Kelsey shared with me – in London! At my home in London, no less… I live in London!?!
Oh yeah, they left us a fab gift.
Too bad Kassi didn’t leave me a translation of the directions for the acondicionador suave y sedoso.