Mind Your Head

So I went to London over the weekend.  This was a huge deal for me because I’ve never been overseas in my whole life (I live in NY.) I was meeting my husband there for three short days.  It was a romantic notion and all very exciting.  We did many of the touristy things – Westminster Abby, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s, Harrod’s, the pubs, fish and chips, afternoon tea, took lots of pictures, etc.

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We rode the Tube east and west, north and south, hopped a double decker to Trafalgar Square and jumped in a black cab when the Tube closed early on Sat. night after a late night jaunt for some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.

I love Indian food.  The warmth of the spices makes me feel so…..grounded.  Plus, I love pronouncing the names of the dishes.  Tan-dooooooooohhri.  Baaaaaaaah-jheeee.  Chaaaah-naaaah Mah-saaaaah-lah.  Beer-reeeee-aaaaaah-neeee.  I’m not even sure I’m pronouncing them correctly, but that’s what they sound like to me.  The words feel fun when they roll over your tongue.

More importantly than all the tourist stops was being away with Big Head in a far off land.  It was one of the great experiences of our time here together.  Leaving the kids in good hands with Mema and Grandpa to be husband and wife instead of mother and father for more than a night out is not something we have done since I can’t remember when.  It was restorative and rejuvenating to explore and find each other in the churches, in the art and architecture, in the pubs, in the food, in the music.

I can show you the plethora of photographs I took of the facades of London buildings which we’ve all seen time unending.  Instead, I will share this:

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This just about sums up my trip.  First off, Londoners are FAR more polite than New Yorkers.  They put up signs like this.  Please Mind Your Head.  In New York, you would be lucky there was any sign at all.  You would smack your head and the next guy would say, “what’d you do that for?  What are you, stupid?  Why don’t you watch where you’re going!”  Secondly, this reminded me that, wherever you go, be careful to mind your head.  Pay attention, look keenly at your surroundings, observe, be still, listen.  You may never be in this spot here on earth ever again.  If you are, things will surely have changed since then.  They always do.  Mind your head by taking stock of all your blessings.  Mind your head – don’t be messy with your thoughts and the words that come out from them.  Mind your head – mind your manners.  Be polite.  Treat each other kindly.  There may be some who have lost their way or are unsure of how to get to where they are going – help them find their way.

So, now that I’m back in New York playing mommy again and Big Head is off playing banker, the thing I want most to remember about my trip to London is to be polite and mind my head.  Really, it’s what my mother and father taught me all along.  After 40 something years here, I had to cross an ocean for the pleasant reminder to “please, mind your head.”

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Airstream

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I have these moments that I call Airstream moments.  It’s when I visualize myself selling everything, buying an Airstream trailer and heading west into the sunset, streaming some air, homeschooling the children out of the trailer.  I don’t have to play house anymore, the husband doesn’t have to play the banker anymore.  He can just play husband.  The one who is devoted to me more than he is to his emails and conference calls.

I expect the real husband lives there.  In the Airstream.  With the real me.  The one who doesn’t have to go to PTA events and cocktail parties.  The one who doesn’t have to pick up the dry cleaning and make sure there are clean undershirts in the drawers. The one who doesn’t have to make sure the kids are on time and well practiced in the art of everything.  The me who lives in the Airstream is someone I long to be for what she is not and yet I have no idea who she is.

I imagine her to be wearing the same comfortable shoes, jeans, and beloved fleece day in and day out.  She eats her yogurt and grape nuts every morning.  A simple sandwich at lunch.  Tea somewhere along the way with fruit and nuts.  Bread and cheese. Salad with a glass of red wine.  She reads books, she writes, she takes photographs, she walks the dog and listens to the news on the radio.  She gets plenty of sleep and drinks lots of water.  She reads stories and plays chess with anyone who will oblige her.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays, she washes her hair and does laundry.

The husband that lives in the Airstream is a man who gets plenty of rest.  He breathes deep and long while contemplating the light.  He doesn’t need as much exercise as banker husband does because he doesn’t overeat like stressed out banker husband does.  He cooks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays and we eat what’s left in between.  He has time for kisses on the back of my neck and hugs that convey what words cannot.  We share passages from the words we read, listen to radio segments together and have time to question and ponder.  We hold each other close and we dance.   We go to bed early and we wake up late.

I’ve envisioned all kinds of scenarios that correspond with the potential number of riders in the airstream.  One.  Me, alone, solo.  Mom’s taking a sabbatical of sorts, to sort stuff out.  You guys are old enough to fend for yourselves now aren’t you?  Two.  Just us, me and him like it used to be before kids, like it will be after they are gone, which won’t be for another 6 years.  That scenario has to wait.  Three.  Me and the two youngest, after the oldest leaves for college this fall.  Husband can continue to work crazy hours while I go on with my crazy dream.  Four.  Husband quits crazy hours and joins me and the two kids in my crazy dream.  Five.  Oldest takes a year off before going to college and the five of us go on down the road, exploring how we belong together.  As one.  As two.  As three, four, and five.

None of these scenarios are possible right now.  Now I must pick up the dry cleaning.  Now I must practice belonging here.  The Airstream will wait for another day, week, month, year.  Another time.  An other time?  An other me?