Friday, July 5, 2013

Never Was Never an Option

"I'm going to stay with you. If you go to jail, we might as well both go." 
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time

The books perch in small stacks on the wooden stand, the dusty lamp ignored, a forgotten sock hidden between magazines and half read fiction. Her photo inhabits the top of a stack, framed in gold and red. A slight smirk slips slyly from the corners of her mouth.  Something's funny but she's not telling. I roll and twist towards the screaming alarm, clumsy with sleep, and brush the edges of the frame. I check the time, her face and my father's, a rolled edge photo wedged tightly in the corner, blurry in the morning dark. The picture is a constant in my morning routine, a balm to the alarm and the ocean between us.

We gave up writing each other's address in pen and as I continued to move across the US, Mandy headed to Europe. She danced, I taught and dreamed of ways to visit her. But kenneling five dogs and flying four people to Germany or England was never in the budget. Pictures, cards, letters, and email stood proxy for the other.

Our friendship was not defined by our husbands or children, as many military relationships are, but on the joy of being together. She understands the importance of pajamas and chocolate, literature, drag queens and hedgehogs named Nigel. She has the courage and intelligence to follow her heart and last week I finally headed to England to see her. She was getting married and I was in the wedding.


Penstemon 'Alice Hindley' taken at the gardens at Hampton Court

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." 
Opening lines to Love Actually


I heard her before I saw her, her voice carrying above the crowd. I spun to the left to see her ducking under the Heathrow security railing and barreling towards me. She grabbed me, her strong arms tight around my shoulders. "I can't believe you're here!" Not being there was never an option. I was with Mandy and I was home.


Having a pint at the John Snow pub in Soho, London. John Snow is considered the father of epidemiology and public health. He helped stop the cholera epidemic of 1854. 


Mystery rose from a garden in Salisbury



Campanula, Russian sage, salvia, and yellow daisies in the long border


Yellow mystery rose


Phlomis (Bethlehem Sage), cotinus (smoke bush) and an epimedium in a 
cottage garden near the Salisbury cathedral


Cotinus (Smoke Bush) and a tall pink climbing rose - Salisbury


Foal in the New Forest

40 comments:

  1. So glad you got to go! I have a friend on the opposite coast here. Those get togethers are difficult to arrange but always worth doing.

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  2. That must have been a great trip. Have you earlier been to England? Happy weekend, Tammy!

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    1. I've been to several other countries but this was my first trip to England. :o)

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  3. I see the foal, but I do not see the new forest. Hope you had a great trip.

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    1. I think the New Forest is in there somewhere... This road ran through the forest, which I think is in the background. :o)

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  4. I started reading that quote, not realizing it was a quote and thought - reminds me of that movie.... what a great movie. duh! How great and wonderful to see your friend again, there are some people in our lives we must make sure to never let go of.

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    1. It's wonderful to be with people you share so much history with. It adds richness to the relationship.

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  5. I hope you had a lovely stay here in England, when did you come back? I hope you also got some of the good weather we finally have got! I have all my family and friends in Norway and Spain and I am no longer able to travel due to my many health issues so I can really appreciate when people find the time to come and visit. It doesn't happen often, as everyone has busy lives but it is all the more welcome when we manage to arrange it :-)

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    1. I came home on the 4th of July, just in time for fireworks. She had absolutely perfect weather for her wedding, which I've heard is rare. While it was sunny for a few days in Hampshire, it was stormy/rainy at home.

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  6. Welcome home! :) What a wonderful experience, to have the opportunity to spend a few days with someone that you rarely get to see. I hope the next time you get to see each other isn't too far off in the future!

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    1. Thanks! I'm already planning a return trip! :o)

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  7. How wonderful that you made this trip! Most of my family lives a few thousand miles away and I cherish our visits! How did your garden fare in your absence?

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    1. We received about 2.5 inches of rain while I was gone but there was still a major casualty. Sadness and despair... but I'll survive and so will my shrub.

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  8. Tammy, welcome to Europe!
    Now you are not far from Baltic sea. They say the summer is warm now in UK. Perhaps have you brought it there?

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    1. I've been to several other countries but this was my first trip to England. I'd love to visit the Baltic. Today England is having a mini-heat wave and my friend is at the beach. She wants more of our weather! :o)

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  9. Spectacular, as always! Safe travels, and thanks for bringing us along.

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  10. Seems as if you had a good time in jolly old England...it's always good to see old friends after so many years.
    It's as if you've never been apart at all....you just pick up from where you left off the last time you were together.
    My girlfriend in VA and I are just like that.

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  11. I'm so happy for you. How exciting and special. I'm not good in the arrivals area, always cry while watching people...and make up stories about them.

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    1. I just picked up my daughter today after a 12 day school trip to Spain and Italy and I cried when I saw her. I just couldn't help it. It feels so good to know someone is waiting for you to just burst through those doors. :o)

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  12. You definitely had a nice time in England, so exciting to see an old friend again. England is for us not that far, so once a year we are going to visit gardens of England, I think the most beautiful in the world.

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    1. I saw a lot of beautiful gardens that were beautiful without being fussy. Plus there were roses everywhere. I came home with some great ideas. :o)

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  13. Oh, lucky you. On second thought, lucky friend to have her friend by her side. And lucky that it happen in England. The closet I will get anytime soon is the PBS program on Hampton Court and the Phillippa Gregory novel The Kingmaker.

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    1. Hampton Court was really impressive. But I can only imagine how cold and smelly it must have been to live in. I much prefer modern conveniences. Plus, all the palace intrigue would have driven me crazy. Their gardens were incredible! I took tons of pictures!

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  14. Oh how absolutely wonderful....a lovely friendship that needs nothing but seeing each other face to face is a special added bonus...i have my dearest friends so far away but we are never far apart...i hope to see her soon.

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    1. I'm hoping to go back next year but there's no guarantee. It was a wonderful trip. :o)

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  15. What a wonderful trip you must have had! How nice to be there for your friend on such an important occasion. ( P.S. We dig out the movie Love Actually very year around Christmas. I love that movie!)

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    1. I was the entire wedding party! It was pretty cool. :o) We both love Love Actually so I just had to include it in the post. The quote is just so accurate.

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  16. How good you got to be there for her wedding and what a blessing to see each other in person, after a separation, and keeping in touch as you could.

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  17. Beautiful! I'm so glad you got to see your old friend, had a fascinating trip and helped her celebrate such an event. The whole post made me smile big.

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  18. I have friends around Europe and an italian one living in China and it's always a great pleasure when we manage to get together again, those people scattered so far from each other around the World but you know they always think of you and you think of them.
    I really enjoyed your post and the pictures are beautiful, I'm rather taken with that purple cotinus and pink rose together. I guess all your mystery roses are David Austin's, although I wouldn't guess the names.

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    1. I was really impressed with some of the color combinations I saw. I think most of the roses were David Austin's too, but I'll never know. They'll just be a mystery!

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  19. Hi Tammy, were all those drinks in the pub picture yours? The first mystery rose is a David Austin and it might be Jude the Obscure, but I don't think it is. I have the rose catalogue somewhere that I occasionally flick through and if I spot it, I'll let you know. I believe your mystery yellow rose is a Graham Thomas. You timed your UK trip perfectly with (eventual) arrival of the UK summer. I hope you had a really enjoyable holiday and wedding party.

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    1. If all those drinks had been mine, the next picture would have been of me passed out on the floor. They were for the people I was with. We had fabulous weather for the trip. :o)

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