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There and back again ...

Apple#638/ Day Zero

A long, slow departure - a wrench, yes, with intermittent stabs of sudden sadness at all that I have left behind - and a long, slow arrival. With many moments of intense satisfaction, pleasure, joy, relief, recognition, at all that I have re-found, and all that simply fits, because this is where we belong. The QM2 was just the right thing for our journey home, for our important long-distance transition. I miss you, New York, and will miss you forever! But, yes, it is good to be here, now.

Kimpton is idyllic. You really should come and visit sometime. This is the perfect time of year in the countryside, with the English summer sun hot at present yet complemented by light breezes; pretty clouds, the trees and gardens still green and lush, with ripening fruits and flowers in bloom, and the fields that surround our village golden as they verge on harvest. A skylark in the morning, the screech of a long-eared owl at night, the gentle doves' mellifluous coos and the raucous rooks' scratchy caws that accompany the daylight hours.

Finding my place in the house and village is going to take a bit of time until it again feels normal to be living here. The house was left wonderfully clear and clean by my brother and family (who, if you remember, occupied the house for the last 2 years whilst they enjoyed an English adventure, over from their home country of Germany) and slowly slowly we will nest ourselves back into the empty rooms until it looks and feels and smells like 'us'. Bring boxes and cases in from the garage to unpack (you know, all the things we have not used for nearly 2 years and quite possibly don't really actually need any more) and then at some stage in the next two months receive our shipment of goods from Manhattan (and quite possibly find we didn't need all of that either) (sigh).

View onto the top end of Church Lane from the Cricket Field

I relish the garden and all its beauty! How come we have so much space that we are able to call our own? There are vases full of flowers all over the house right now, some given by friends (aren't I lucky?) and some picked by me: roses or delphiniums or lavender, all from my garden!! I can lie on the grass and look at the sky, the clouds, the birds swooping by; listen to a child's voice, a dog's bark, our cat's meow, a car's or an aeroplane's rumble, the church ringing the quarter. So much peace and life all around.

Neighbours and friends are happy to see me again, greet me with smiles and hugs, handshakes, invitations to a catch-up over coffee or a meal. I drop by Bonnie’s house for a glass of wine one evening and meet her lovely lively new lodger Stevie and her dogs; I leave my front door open all afternoon and hear 90-something-year-old Dora’s voice calling out ‘hellooooo!! – are you there?’ as she is pushed past in the wheelchair for her afternoon ‘walk’. I drop a friend off at the train station in St Albans and someone’s voice shouts out ‘Anna! I haven’t seen you for years…!!’; and at 7.30am as I leave the Harpenden pool after a morning swim an old colleague drives up into the adjacent parking space and her face shines as she recognizes me ‘back again’! I accompany Juliet on her weekly Butterfly Survey walk along the Mimram and around farmer Ben’s fields; I join Angela for Morning Prayer in the shadowy cool of the church’s lady chapel. Old familiar lifestyle, old familiar friendships. Wonderful, wonderful to be welcomed so wholeheartedly, unguardedly; so generously.

Luca has gone straight back to his long commute into London, and is taking the brunt of that blow like a true hero.

For me, the task is very different. Two years ago I dropped all my local responsibilities in preparation for leaving; now the challenge is decide on my new roles. As when I arrived all fresh and excited in New York at the start of 2018, I want to be open to whatever it is that comes my way, to trust that what presents itself is the gift that life is offering me, and not to be anxious while I wait. Easier said than done, but if I learnt anything in the last two years it was that it is far better to practice simplicity and faith than to grab or pursue the something-or-the-other that I believe (probably mistakenly) will make me feel I’m in control!

I thrive on belonging, wherever I am. Wherever you are, thank you for being part of my world. We belong; let's thrive together.

New York, West 26th St, at the end of the Gay Pride March on June 30th: waving goodbye!


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