Travel as Metaphor

The blog of novelist Sue Swift.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Onward and Backward: BK to London to California in ten days

11 March: I had a pretty darned good birthday. First of all I was in my favorite place in the world, London. I had am English breakfast with a strong cuppa tea. Went to Notting Hill, nothing like the movie. Walked around Portobello Market and resisted buying a soldier’s red coat for 85 quid, a good deal had I needed one and were I not worried about excess luggage charges, which I avoided going from BK to London only by tossing out quite a lot of stuff. OK, it was stuff I didn’t need but…

I visited Uncle Li, who looked quite chipper for someone who’s half-paralyzed and been bedridden for six months now. We chatted for about 40 minutes…should take photos to him tomorrow.

Had tea with the Lazari in Hampstead Garden Suburb and then the sr Lazari took me to dinner. They were quite jazzed that it was my birthday.

Cindy Gestler phoned—she asked me and a friend to lunch at her place in St. John’s Wood. Mostly salads and a wonderful soup followed by a walk with her shih-tzus in Regent’s Park, where the locals were playing football (soccer to you Yanks). Left her a copy of Triangle which she appreciated. I also autographed a pile of them for Li’s caregivers. Anything to elevate the level of care…I am really not happy about the fact that he hasn’t visibly improved in the four months I lived in Thailand.

I find myself napping often, just dropping to any convenient couch wherever I am. Napped at Lo and Mo’s and then at Cindy’s. I’m not shy about it, either. Can’t be when I am so hellaciously jet lagged. The night I got to London I was so tired that I ralphed. My eyes were all puffy and my skin saggy. So much for my overseas health tour.

Went with Auntie Liz to Allison and Jeremy’s house in Hendon. NEVER get into a car with Liz at the wheel. She seems to regard the lines painted on the streets as tracks rather than boundaries. The house itself is beyond awesome. Allison is a very intelligent person and gives more than lip service to the idea that her four children are paramount. For example, the great room on the lower floor is huge, and painted all white, even to the smooth wood floor, which is to big and slick that one can roller skate on it…and that’s exactly what Max, their youngest son, was doing. He was wearing a pair of those trainers with wheels on them. With the furniture pushed against the walls, there was plenty of room. Later we played volleyball with balloons from Max’s birthday party in there. There was an upright piano painted black and silver, and a big dining room table at the far end swathed in crimson velvet, where Ariella was doing homework. Clearly Allison realized that there are many days when the weather prevents outside play, so the kids have enough room inside to go nuts without hurting anything.

The doorframes are encrusted with seashells, painted bright white. The kitchen is painted in greeny-grays and looks like an undersea cave. At one end is a nook with comfy chairs and a red velvet couch and a huge TV/DVD. The kids’ toys, books and games are in shelves hidden by long, thick red velvet drapes. The light fixtures were as fanciful as everything else.

The master bedroom was romantic, with Indian wooden screens covering shelving and closets, painted off white. The bed was peachy and welcoming.

Allison’s is the boldest house I’ve ever seen. Totally OTT but very livable and highly inspiring.

13 March: I flew into SFO from Heathrow and for once United business class didn’t let me down. A reasonably pleasant flight on which I managed to get some sleep which stood me in good stead because when I reached California, I had to rent a car, drive to Sacramento, then drive to the Sac Airport the next day to fly to the NINC conference.

I rented another car and went to Wendy’s. She looked shocked when I walked in and told me that she thought I was arriving the next day. Nevertheless, she welcomed me and popped me into the guest room.

The jet lag continues…I went to the NINC conference and barely made it through Eric Maisel, taking copious notes and glad he provided a pretty good topic list. But he was, as usual, worth all the travel. His discussion of meaning-making made all the effort to hear him worthwhile.


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