Category Archives: love

On friendship

I realized this week that it was fifteen years ago last month that I graduated from high school back in Minnesota, back in the US. Now it’s impossible to guess on that day where you will be in fifteen years (and I don’t think I would have ever guessed England!) and who you will still know or talk to. So it is with great pleasure that I have to send my love and greetings to the girls from my graduating class who are still among my best friends in the world.

Maintaining a friendship across 20 years and a number of different states and eventually countries is not easy. We’ve drifted in and out of contact, and in and out of closeness over those years. In some ways, many of us have changed and funnily enough we’ve changed in ways that have been similar, such that we are close friends now only because we have all changed. Our circumstances differ, we are all in different places, different circumstances, but we are still friends.

Obviously this requires a great deal of understanding and patience. It’s not that we never argue, don’t disagree, don’t fall out, or otherwise feel the same about all things and never challenge each other. But we do have some degree of tolerance, of appreciation for the friendship, such that at the end of the day, we still love each other. This is an amazing thing, a very good thing (ha, Martha Stewart!).

I think if I had been asked 20 years ago whether I would still be friends with my female friends from junior high school at this stage of my life, I would have guessed “no”! My tomboy nature meant that I had more male friends than female ones, but interestingly the boys have mostly disappeared. I also had many friends from the years above us, and again I suspect that if asked I would have thought that the people in my own graduating class were not my most likely long-term friends. It has thus been a pleasant surprise to find that I was utterly wrong.

Nothing is better, when navigating the difficulties of a foreign country, than realizing that you do have a support network, even if they are a (seemingly) million miles away. Common backgrounds and interests, shared experiences, these are all things that somehow start to matter.

And it is not as though there are not new friends, new people in my life. There are, both from my time in England and before. My life is enrichened and my spiritual happiness enhanced by the friendships I have made since my teenage years. This is not at all to be discounted, and in day-to-day dealings some of the “new” interlopers are more important to me on a daily basis than the old stalwarts from my youth. But the big picture is pretty. Friendship is a treasure, and life is an adventure. As we go around the world, as we navigate difficult circumstances, we realize just how much we value the familiar.

I cannot possibly stop this theme without commenting that, much to my surprise and delight, one of the best friends I have made in recent years is my own sister. I’ve blogged about her before, and we embark on adventures as much as we can, given our different locations and situations. Just as with my non-blood related friends, we have our ups and downs, but at the end of the day the book on my shelf called “no friend like a sister” rings far truer than I ever could have guessed. She has a few years until she hits the 15 years from high school milestone, and I wish her as good of luck as I have had with the friends made in those days.

Americans have this tradition of Thanksgiving, celebrated in November, when we verbally and spiritually commemorate the things we are thankful for. I am a few months from that, and blessed to have celebrated it last year with other Americans displaced as I am from the homeland. But the spirit does live year-round, and so today I am thankful for my friends.

Trickery for a good cause

I managed to trick my beloved nonagenarian paternal grandmother into staying on the phone with me for nearly an hour tonight, which was a new record in my nearly two years abroad. Her post-depression era tendencies are to cut off conversations at 15 minutes or so because of what it must be costing; it was a very good night to keep her chatting and distracted for a much longer period of time. The money, of course, means nothing to me compared with the opportunity to chat with her. She is about the only person on whom I spend any long distance phone call money, since the rest of my world is dominated by email and chats (audio and/or video) on skype and other awesome new technologies. My father tried to intrigue her with video chatting once, but it was a bit strange for her, so I stick with the phone. But I will be on a high for the next 24 hours after having the opportunity to chat with her for so long, the time flew by and she must not have been paying too much attention. I feel slightly devious but not really guilty. And that’s a good thing. I can afford to chat with her as much as the time difference permits; since she is home in the day when I get home from working a late evening, it works beautifully. And I will be ‘home’ in Minnesota (for the State Fair!) in less than six weeks and I vow that in this visit I will not waste so much time gallivanting about town such that I barely get to see this most precious gem of a matriarch.

Another May Day

The odd thing about this blog having existed for more than a year is that I can refer back to what was written on this day last year!  One year ago today, my sister arrived from the states for a week-long visit.  This year, she is heading home instead of here, although I cannot complain as she was here recently and we had a great time, including our wild Dublin-in-a-day trip.  Regardless, as of tomorrow, a very happy birthday to my very favorite (a.k.a. only!) sibling, my amazing sisterLove you.

Amy G Excerpt

I am unabashedly emotionally affected by the Amy Grant and Vince Gill romance story.   I was an Amy Grant fan as a child, and was somewhat renewed in my affection for her when her marital problems occurred around the same time that my own marriage dissolved.  I was cheered to see her find happiness in her new love with Vince, as it gave me hope for the future.  And I love her music and I absolutely adore her new husband and his own musical offerings.

With that introduction, I am willing to admit that I spent quite a few minutes the other night reading this transcript of a joint interview of theirs on Larry King, which I had never seen or read before.  I loved the idea that their relationship developed in a “Let’s give them something to talk about” manner, where others saw it before they did.  I also was smiling so hard at the fact that Vince’s middle name is “Grant”.  What karma.

But the real reason I am writing yet another “I love Amy and Vince post”  is that I found this excerpt from Amy’s new book on the Oprah website of all things, and this story made me so very happy.  The combination of my love for VG and AG and elderly grandparent-like people all rolled up in one touching anecdote.

You know your island is too small when…

This week’s BBC had a feature on a couple here in Britain who did not know they were twins, had been separated at birth, and who had gotten married married.  Eeeeew.  The courts had annulled the marriage when this mess was discovered (it’s never mentioned as to how?  Wasn’t it odd that the couple had the same birthday and year?  Did they not think that was a coincidence?  Or was that one of those “ooh we must be soulmates” things?)  It boggles the mind as a statistical thing, that this pair would meet, be both single, attracted to each other, etc.  It implies this island country really is too small and too densely populated.

It also brings to mind so many Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if…” jokes.  (“…if you go to the Family Reunion to Meet Women.”)  And it makes me want to start brainstorming “You might be British if…” jokes.  I’ll have to get working on that one.  Suggestions welcome.

Minnesota shout-out

From my homesick self (albeit finally a homesick self with a UK Visa Debit card! It arrived yesterday and even works!) …

Here’s a great little commentary on relationships, courtesy of my new favorite band The Dresden Dolls, as noted previously, and containing quite the Minnesota shout out:

Shores of California Lyrics
Artist: The Dresden Dolls

he’s been trying with limited success
to get this girl let him get into her dress
but every time he thinks he’s getting close
she threatens death before he gets a chance

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma
that’s the way it’s been since protozoa
first climbed onto the shores of California

she’s been trying with limited success
to get him to turn out the lights and dance
cause like any girl all she really wants
is that fickle little bitch romance
that fickle little bitch romance

and that is why a girl is called a tease
and that is why a guy is called a sleaze
and that’s why god made escort services
one life to live and mace and GHB

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since the animals and Noah
first climbed onto shores of California

must not be too kind
stop thinking love is blind
clench your fists, yeah write
“she’s just not my type”

why all these conflicting specifications
maybe to prevent overpopulation
all I know is that all around the nation
the girls are cryin’ the boys are masturbatin’
the girls are cryin’ the boys are masturbatin’

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since Aristophanes and Homer
wrote the iliad and lysistrata

that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since the ancient protozoa
first climbed onto the shores of California

Yeah it’s cynical but funny, especially the part about preventing overpopulation via the usual conflicts between the sexes. Love it, love it, love it. Video is here.  I particularly love the way Amanda Palmer successfully points to MN on the US map, just proving how awesome she is (and how unlike so many east coast types or foreigners who don’t know where it is!)

Fall is in the air

I went for a walk last night and realized that we had switched over from summer to fall without my really noticing. I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt and a sweatshirt but was still cold, wrapping my hands in the sweatshirt cuffs and breathing in the chilly air. It was also quite dark for just before 8 pm. Lileks noted that Target already has the Christmas decorations out, which makes me simultaneously sad and resigned (12 days of Christmas has become three months of Christmas?) but also homesick–any mention of Target seems to get me these days. I realized last night that I had never properly switched my wardrobe over from winter to summer clothes: summer in England strangely enough did not really require any different attire than winter in England. But as a result my long-sleeved t-shirt collection (all from Target of course) is looking a bit ratty!

On my little “fall is in the air” walk I noticed that there were a large number of people out and about walking around. Particularly interesting was the fact that there were a lot of couples of all ages. Most interesting was the fact that I saw quite a few very affectionate silver-haired couples. There seemed to be a lot of hand-holding and arm-around-shoulders activity. Now this looked different from “home” to me and I was trying to sort out why. Certainly back in the US there’s less walking around in general; unless one is in a major city, the car-driven society dominates. Although I admit it was actually a bit disgusting to be in Bath last weekend and realize that the town center was essentially a carbon-copy of the town center where I live: same shops, same restaurants. In several cases I was shocked to discover that restaurants were chains. But regardless, the “high street” phenomenon does seem to mean that people walk around town here more than I am used to in the US. And it seems that in the US, the city centers are for young people while the older people are out in the ‘burbs. Perhaps that more than anything was why I noticed the silver-haired folks with their affectionate partners so much. Regardless, it was a beautiful thing and certainly made me feel wistful. I used to be really disgusted with public displays of affection, but my tolerance levels seem to be changing. I always felt like it was a possessive thing more than an affectionate thing, but to me, last night, these couples looked affectionate. A girl can only hope to be in that position when the number of silver hairs on my hand increases to that point!