Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 1

I still remember driving up to the white village in the countryside of southern Spain for the very first time. The windows were down in David's small white two door vehicle. We didn't speak much. I didn't speak much Spanish then. Everything was perfection! Down to the time of day. Late afternoon sun cast a golden glow over the fields of orange trees, over the faces of the people as we sped by, over the white walls of the village's buildings. I suppose that was one of THE turning points in my life. I was on my way to meet my host family for a 10 month stay in Spain.
Since then, fifteen years ago, I have returned to that same village three times. Each time my friends are changed in an instant from the way they were the last time I saw them to their present state. Like two photographs. Then and now. I notice different things too. I see how different I am from them. I see how what I believe in separates me from them. I notice the prices on food. I decide whether or not the village is child friendly. I see the changes in the land and I am sad. I know that when I return in five or ten years many things will be gone, erased, and forgotten. And I know that the people of that village won't notice or care. Only my eyes notice these things, because I am an outsider.

I am thirty. For some I am old, for some I am young. For some I am just right. Whatever way you see it, this trip to my village in Spain has made me old. I look back with nostalgia to the way things were, there. There is, however, no going back. I can visit as much or as often as I like but it will never be the same.

I am thirty and now I feel a sense of urgency with regards to the life I will provide for my children. My time for fun and games is over. And has been over for a while although I didn't realize it. Will they want a mish mash of everything under the sun like me? Will it be good for them to dance around the world not really taking root anywhere? I fear I would meet an early grave if I had to raise my kids here and there. So I've made a decision in my mind. I have my vision and from now on I will work toward it. I probably should have decided long ago how I wanted to raise my kids and where. But I didn't. Now that I've experienced motherhood in a few different areas, I've made my choice. Like I said twice before, I'm thirty. I hope I will see my vision realized before ten years are up. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. . . there I go again.

As for the two weeks of fun. Here's what we did:

1. We flew from Turkey to London and stayed in a hotel that night at the cutest place called the Premier Inn in Gatwick. As far as rooms go, they were standard. The kids had beds to jump on and TV to watch. BBC is great. I love CBeebies. To get to the hotel from the airport cost about 11 pounds. The taxis are massive in London. The kids were loving it and so was I. It was nice to have seat belts again.

There was a nice little restaurant in a neighboring building. I felt like I was going to the Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings. It was built in dark red brick and I think it even had a wooden sign, you know the kind that hang down and swing back and forth. An added perk was the after dinner mint they left with the bill. Twilight. A nice way to remind me to not forget about my beloved Edward. (I know I'm lame.)

Another great thing about the hotel was that it was surrounded by nature. A gaggle of quite aggressive geese by the front pond and a lovely wood to the rear of the Inn. The kids woke up before dawn so I decided we'd go out for a little exploring. Everything outside was covered in a thin layer of sparkly ice. It was quiet and almost magical. Our footsteps were muffled by the decomposing leaves and cold soil. To make a long story short, it's a great hotel for kids if you like to be outdoors. Where else can you explore the outdoors in London?

Once we had a delightful breakfast, bacon bacon bacon, we got shuttled back to the airport, stuck our luggage in a locker which cost us 6.50 per piece, and caught a train to Victoria Station.Here's me and Cinci on the train. As you can see, he's snacking on a tasty brochure we picked up at the Premier Inn. It had a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine on it so he had to have it. As you will see, this brochure is a lifesaver.

Here we are in front of the Natural History Museum. It's a gorgeous building and it was full on the day we went. Saturday. Of course. It was also free. We went straight for the dinosaur exhibit. We waited in a long line to see the animatronic dinosaurs. The T-Rex was quite a crowd drawer. Unfortunately, one of our children was terrified of the creature. There was no other way around the predator. We had to walk by it. We eventually got through without any tears. If you ever go, I suggest you go on a weekday. It is still free. They have wonderful exhibits and the staff try to engage the kids in the hallways with skulls and such.

Here is a display of what scientists used to think dinosaurs looked like. I thought they looked sort of like an elementary school child's clay project. We certainly have come a long way. I think. Maybe we're still really off.

Here is Jonathan and Cinci in front of some large creatures. If you look closely in Cinci's right hand you can see the same brochure from the hotel.

After the museum we took a taxi back to Victoria Station, grabbed lunch at McDonald's, and caught our train back to Gatwick airport.

Our taxi ride. (Cinci is snacking again.)

Our lunch at McDonald's.

"Prefers his brochure over nuggets and fries? Singular."

Train ride back to the airport. Really nice trains by the way.

Yes, this was a long post and only includes one day of our trip. I will not be so detailed in my next post. Thanks for reading.


Sonja said...

Happy Birthday friend!
Details? You can never have too many details. Please give us MORE details. (Do I sound too needy?--Sorry)

I loved reading your thoughts on Spain and nostalgia and motherhood. Your boys are growing, growing!

I loved your nod to Twilight and chuckled at Cincy's singularity.

Hope you are all settled and well!

Code Yellow said...

I'm not sure my comment posted - I got an error message? Oops if you get this twice....

I LOVE the brochure eating - truly singular:)

London looks lovely. We are going this summer and the dinosaurs are on our list of "musts." I personally can't wait for real parks and real taxis. Ahhhhh.

Can't wait to see more about your trip. And I like your memories / way of writing and introspection...I want to know your raising children vision. Nosey, I know. :)

Sarah said...

What fun! Your boys are getting so big. Happy Birthday!

Marcelo D2 said...

I love you guys!!!!
Love...Love...and Love!