A Very Short Visit…

Our youngest daughter visited us today.

She had called, well, skyped, last weekend for an hour and said she wanted to come home to see us…could she?

What a question!  We spent the week preparing for a day with her, planning breakfast, tea and dinner, I baked her favourite cake, Hubs made her a jar of special caesar dressing to take with her.  We could go to the park if it was nice and chat non stop.

What we did not bargain for were the Sunday, “train interruptions.”

This means that very often one or more local stations are closed and a replacement bus service is in operation.

Although these bus services are a lovely addition to British public transport, they have to make the rounds of several stations to satisfy all their stranded passengers and this takes a dreadfully long time.  But it’s Sunday, what’s the hurry?

Her two hour journey, took four and a half.  The stations at both ends of her trip were closed.  This was an unfortunate co-incidence and incurred two desperately slow transfers between stations.  She left her home in Leigh at 830am all bright eyed and bushy tailed and arrived at her home in Beckenham at 1pm, fit  to be tied but too happy to let it show.

In order to run the obstacle course imposed by these closures on her way back she was required to start her return journey at 530pm.  That gave us a whole four and a half hours to visit.

I was reminded of my days out at boarding school.  The odd occasion I was able to visit my grandmother, who lived in the same county but a couple of hours away by country road, I too would have just enough time for lunch and a piece of cake with a cup of tea before starting back.

That was an unexpected memory.

Back to today.  We scrapped the full breakfast I had prepared and ate bacon with our freshly brewed coffee.

The beef was roasting with all its veggies, the yorkshires were rising and hubs was busy making sauces to die for and whistling in the kitchen.

We chatted and I noticed her eyes brimmed several times.  She bravely kept up the conversation telling us about teachers, classes and workouts and I tactfully did not comment on her sparkling eyes because then I would break down too and she’d already had one Sunday of tears…she didn’t need another one.

Her job keeps her busy two evenings a week and she had some funny stories about the goings on behind the scenes in a restaurant.  Nothing bad, don’t worry, just the creativity.  For example, she went in with a dessert order for “lavender ice cream,”  yes, it is a little fancy place, the chef said,

“We don’t have lavender ice cream…oh hang on a minute!”

and flew out of the back door and came back moments later with a handful of fresh lavender from a garden a few houses down.  He crushed it and folded it into the vanilla ice cream.

Obviously this was not the first time lavender ice cream had been improvised and Malia was suitably amused and impressed!

We ate at 330pm, with some good classical music on in the background.  We washed up and then sat in the lounge and enjoyed more coffee, cake and conversation.

She and I did our rubbish and compost heap run, for old time’s sake, then she said,

“I don’t want to go back…I don’t want to go to school tomorrow…”

She knows she has only been there for two weeks but she does not think this is what she wants to do for the rest of her life, a few years maybe but not forever.

They have to audition for the shows put on by the school,

“I’ve never had to audition to be in a dance…I’ve never not got a part …

“If you’re having a bad day then you’re out of luck…”

All I could think of to say was,

“Your talent has been given to you as a gift, it’s up to you to take it and turn it into something you love and will work hard to succeed at.  The time and place is right for you now.”

I hugged her when she left and she put on a strong face.  Hubs went with her, he travels for free so went as the comic relief.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…” she confided in him.

Again I am taken back to my first term at boarding school and the utter helplessness I felt at twelve in my homesickness.  The pain was physical and inescapable.

We both know how she feels.  Although it will pass, the memory of the ache will never go away.

This is the stuff of stiff upper lips.

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