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And I thought yesterday was crappy….

March 14, 2013

I’m in London, my favorite city that isn’t the one I live in. I arrived this morning and am staying with my aforementioned dear, dear friends Nicola and Tiffany (of my Las Vegas trip). The trip was inspired by the chance for a reunion with my trekking pals, but of course, is also a wonderful excuse for some fun and friendship with these two amazing women who know all my faults and love me not just despite them, but even a bit more for them.

The trip was meant to be over more than a week and to include a swing over to Paris. Because of work and potential work obligations it was shortened to 4 days – I left New York at 10 last night and will arrive back about 10 sunday night.  I spent a lot of energy thinking about whether to just bag the trip, but in the end, I’ll take any chance to get on an airplane and off somewhere fun.

But Tuesday was not a good day for me and that spilled into Wednesday leading up to my departure for the airport. Despite a wonderful lunch with an old, wise friend, who gave me sage advice and a lot of laughs, Tuesday morning and early afternoon were spent running a variety of annoying errands in pouring, somewhat cold rain, and panicking a bit about logistics. I met a friend in the afternoon for a lecture I’d really wanted to attend, but since many others were also interested, we ended up missing out. Tired and cold we stopped for cheese and salami, and I picked up some treats for my London hosts (bourbon and ale pickles for Tiffany; squares of chocolate on sticks to be melted in milk for cocoa for Nicola – I was rewarded with great hugs and “you know us soooo well!” when they were opened). A beer later we headed out again for our second adventure of the night, Indian food and some theater. Outside the restaurant I did what I do. I tripped on nothing and fell – hard – on my knee. The heavy backpack I was carrying pulled me down and, though I’m an old pro at falling, this was a particularly jarring moment. And the emotions came. I don’t think I’ve cried after a fall since I was a child, but cry I did. Sob really. And my fragile emotional state lasted through the show and into the post-event drink thoroughly ruining both my and my (hopefully still) friend’s good time.

On Wednesday, over tired and still emotional, I went through a couple presentations at work, had a long, sad talk with a friend and headed to my salvation – the airport. After a bit of a delay, I was on the overnight flight to London. I slept most of the flight and landed refreshed and excited. The Heathrow Express to Paddington and a short taxi ride to Kilborne and I was embracing Tiffany.

Nicola and Tiffany’s home is simply and elegantly comfortable with a sunny, inviting kitchen, a warm guest room, and a spectacular shower which I very quickly took advantage of. As Tiffany whipped up a delicious squid stew she introduced me to the two newest members of their family, cats Rufus (ginger and very very friendly and curious) and Oscar (tabby – a bit more standoffish, but happy to rub against you). I am very familiar with the rascals as they represent the bulk of N and T’s Facebook photos since their adoption a few months ago. I’ve often said that I purposely don’t post photos of my cat for fear that I’ll be pegged as a crazy cat person. N and T have no such concerns and embrace the title. All seemed right with the world.

During lunch we planned our day. We would head to the Tate Modern, walk along the river and then meet Nicola for cocktails overlooking St. Paul’s (a detail which immediately prompted my rendition of “Feed the Birds.” ) An hour later, I grabbed my coat and bag and waited for Tiffany in the kitchen. The phone rang and after a minute I heard her scamper down the stairs and out the door without a word to me. A moment later she was back, shaking and whimpering slightly. “What happened?” I asked, not exactly sure what her appearance was indicating. “Rufus has been hit by a car. He’s dead.” She replied through tears now coming much faster.

Wait. What? How? No – that didn’t just happen did it. How could that have just happened?

The driver never stopped and a kind neighbor found poor Rufus. Tiffany lovingly brought him into the house and called Nicola, who headed home. Wanting to give them time for their grief, I headed out for a couple of hours visiting Oxford Street and walking a bit of the city. When I got back a red-eyed Nicola gave me a hug and asked my why I’d let the cat out. I froze for a minute, but she laughed and we hugged again.

Rather than sharing their sunshine, I fear I brought them my rain. We had a lovely dinner at home and shared some drinks and laughs and tears. We looked at photos of Rufus – and there are a lot – and talked about his sweet short life.

It was not the day I expected to have nor one that I would have wished on anyone. And Nicola and Tiffany needlessly apologized about the disruption in my holiday. But in a way it really reinforced how much I value these friends as well as my friend from Tuesday night. It is truly a sign of a special relationship when you can cry without inhibition in front of someone. That there will be no judgement, merely support. I hope my friends felt that from me tonight.

Tomorrow is another day and the Tate Modern, as well as getting a full taste of London, is in my sights.

RIP Rufus. I’m so happy I had a chance to meet you.

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One Comment
  1. Esme permalink

    I just got back and I’m just catching up, but … Lord … Poor Rufus. I totally would’ve done what Nicola did, though … asking why you’d let the cat out. How heartbreaking. Now, to your next post. I’m hoping things start looking up, my little friend.

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