Travelogue (or at least a bit of it)
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May. 29th, 2009 | 10:37 pm
music: The quiet hum of my monitor
I do not have either the time or the mental presence, tonight, to write down all that I want to say about London and Wales and Brussels.
My trip was, on paper, incredible and full and exciting and delightful. I saw shows in the West End (after dreaming of it for ten years or maybe more). I had delightful French wines and Belgian chocolates and wandered down ancient streets taking pictures of grand old architecture. I visited a very old department store in London that is famous for its printed fabrics. I had proper afternoon tea. I ate the best pub food I've ever had with a creamy dark ale in a rugby pub in Cardiff.
I took a train through the Heart of Wales which I'd chosen for the beauty of the line and found myself in a single, tightly packed carriage, squashed between a window and a charming, chatty Welsh foursome on holiday who were tremendously kind and warm and genuine and had cut fat slices of homemade corned beef pie and poured cups of wine (and later vodka) for Sam and me before we had any chance of playing at the social nicety of polite refusal.
I rode a steam powered train through a vibrant green valley on a perfect summer day and took a beautiful hike to the bottom of a waterfall (and back to the top, of course)... and another along the coastal cliffs of the Cardigan Bay.
I visited Brussels and took time to enjoy the atmosphere and a slightly less frenetic pace of life than the one I generally tend to follow as I ate chocolates and sipped cappucinos. Sam and I visited a men's clothing shop and found that, at least in Belgium, the formal vest or waistcoat is not just something one finds in the window of formalwear shops one vists to rent tuxedos. The store had many, in a delightful range of colors and patterns... Sam found The One, in fancy dress terms, that he will wear for our wedding.
I realized, from time to time, as memories and dreams came bubbling up, provoked by a painting here or a statue there, that Europe is very complicated for me; much more than other places. Perhaps part of it is the way one can't escape history there... it surrounds you in the buildings and the mannerisms and the sensibilities, even though modern facilities and conveniences have been integrated with varying degrees of seamlessness. It made me think of the travels of my past and the travels of which I dream. It made me think of promises made and promises kept and promises broken. It made me think of people I've loved and lost, through death or through argument or through passage of time. It made me reflect upon the difference between "Getting Over" something and "Accepting" that same something.
It hit me, as I was leaving the theatre from seeing Oliver! that Theatre in the West End was the one big adventure my mother and I had planned and promised each other and hoped we'd have... and never gotten to bring to fruition. Funnily, Oliver! wasn't the first show I saw in the West End... but perhaps it struck me because it has the distinction of being first musical I remember seeing on stage -- the 4th and 5th graders at my elementary school in Texas put on one rendition of it when I was in 1st or 2nd grade... and the songs have coursed through my life ever since. When we stepped out of the theatre, Sam asked me what I'd thought and it just enough, answering him, to send me into fits of sobs over the whole thing.
I'm beginning to realize that I probably won't ever "Get Over" my mother's death, as we are so encouraged to do in this country, but that I have (for the most part) "Accepted" it ... some parts with humor, some parts with reverence and some parts brushed under the rug and pushed out of mind for this reason or that. It surprises me, occasionally, where certain chunks of all there was to process have ended up.
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