Since my last posting, my husband and I have flown across the Atlantic and are settling into the faculty flat in Winston House, Bedford Square, London. Quite a beautiful place to live for four months ago. Some of my readers know all about this because they followed my travel blog (Bedford Square + 2), which will continue on a non-Word Press platform. If you are curious, you can find it through this link: http://marykendall2.blogspot.co.uk
We lived here two years ago, spending the spring term and following it with five weeks on the continent. This time ’round we will be here for four months. The flight was, for once, not too bad way back in coach class. The pilot surprised us all by taking off exactly on time and arriving at Heathrow Airport 50 minutes early. For real.
Jet-lag is something that seems to get worse with age, and both of us fell fast asleep at 10 pm on New Year’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight we both woke to what sounded like an awful ruckus. It took only a few seconds to figure out it was the fireworks along the Thames. From our windows we couldn’t see the fireworks directly. What we did see was the sky turning beautiful shades of pink, green, purple, white…and flashes of sparkling white rockets. By sticking my head out the window I figured out that I could see some of the fireworks and those were dazzling enough to me in my exhausted state.
After about 12 minutes of this sound and light show in this ancient city, my husband quickly fell back to sleep while I remained wide awake for an hour. It gave me some quiet time to make a cup of tea, sit down in the darkened living area and think about our many visits to the UK and to London in particular.
Our first trip to London and England was back in 1977 when we were young and energetic enough to walk absolutely everywhere. Another summer we spent about a month in London following a month in Oxford where R. did research, and I enjoyed exploring parks, museums, shops, streets. In 1989, we brought the first group of students over on this Honors London program sponsored by my husband’s university. We lived in Hampstead that year, and we loved it. Our son was in nursery school, so I made friends of some spectacular women. The Heath was there for daily walks and our local library was next door to the Keats house. After we checked out our books, my little son and I would go sit in the garden of the Keats House and read stories together. It didn’t ever get better than that for me. Sometimes simple acts or simple gestures are better than anything.
In 2013, we returned to London and were housed in beautiful Winston House that now is home for this London Honors program. It was a very wonderful time for us and for the students. We’ve kept in touch with many of them. And now, in 2015, we are unexpectedly back again for four months. A new group of students will arrive on January 10th, and the term will have begun.
I will continue my travel blog if anyone is interested. Since this blog is devoted to my poetry writing practice, I thought I’d begin the new year with an old poem. I published it in 2013 in my Bedford Square + 2 blog as a Valentine’s gift to my husband. Since his teaching and research have given us both so many wonderful stays in this beautiful country, I’d like to share a very simple love poem I wrote for him. Love is not tied to a single day or week or year, and sometimes simple things like strolling in a beautiful place help you reaffirm your love and relationship.
If you might like to listen to me reading the poem, simply click on the link below. It takes a few seconds to begin.
Taking Your Arm
I took your arm for the first time in so many years.
Was it the cold damp air that made me reach out?
Was it the need to feel safe in the noisy city streets?
Slipping my fingers into the crook of your arm,
the warmth of your soft wool coat was comforting.
I felt grounded and balanced by your strength.
Through the busy London streets we walked,
much of it in silence, a silence built on
knowing that words aren’t always necessary.
I glanced down at our booted feet. Our steps
kept time, first left, then right, left, then right,
finding the rhythm of these unknown streets.
For RDK, London, February 14, 2013
Originally published on Bedford Square + 2