Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Bunch of Hot Steam

You've got to hand it to those Romans. They were thinkers. They find a hot spring and they build this ginormous sacred temple and social spot on top. Basically they found a whole town based on this spring--the same town that evolves over years of Roman and British use for different reasons, including our friend Jane Austin and her folks who somehow always spend some time there.
I don't blame them. I love that town. I don't love the difficulty of finding parking (now the whole adventure of driving in merry old England deserves a post all its own), but I love the winding streets and the ways the 18th century British architects used the natural curves to form the Royal Crescent and the Royal Circus.

So there was a sign outside the fenced area inside the Crescent: "No Fly Tipping." Any ideas what that means? Anyone?

So basically, I'm a believer. I believe in building on the landscape you have and in drawing out that hot steam or the dips and curves in the terrain. I believe in utilizing and improvising and creating beauty in the situation.And there's great shopping...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ancient of Days

I don't know why I have this huge insatiable interest in Stonehenge, but I do. It's so Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I still remember reading Thomas Hardy in Mr. Burton's AP English class and really getting it. But you know why Tess was drawn to that stone altar? Because she felt what I felt: ancient. old. antiquity. ages past.

I don't know how to explain it, but I think Stonehenge and Avebury feel like the oldest places I've ever been. I love hearing how these ancient people moved heaven and earth in order to better understand heaven and earth--how they used stone, so immovable and permanent that it remains today, to measure time. I love the creation of calendar with the use of light--that each month the sun would shine through different portions of the stone columns. I love the use of the solstice.

And most of all, I love that we just don't know so much. We don't know really how or why. And it's all the more intriguing. I love that Avebury is so non-touristy compared to Stonehenge--that these nearby stone circles surround the small village, and that you can actually go up and touch the stones, unlike the barriers and tickets and audio guides at Stonehenge.

I love that a really hot gay couple at the greatest fish and chips place our last night in London told us that there's a certain Avebury "female" stone. Legend has it that if a woman touches it, she will get pregnant within a year. Oh the irony...

I love that these rocks and this land bend back and forth across time. Sort of reaching back to former lives...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Returning to a Former Life...

This past week I went abroad.

And I returned to a former life.

Every once in a while I meet up face-to-face with my former life. I get all snuggled in and busy and forging forward with life-worthy goals and plans, and then I somehow sneak back to the past and remember who I was. Who I am, really, but who I've become somehow so wrapped up in the current that I've forgotten that Other Part of me. Does that make sense?

When I was young, my dear grandparents, who lived next door through the hedge, were called as mission presidents to the England London mission. We joked that we would take care of my brother Little Ben while they took care of Big Ben. They filled those three years with postcards of the Tower of London and newsclippings of Princess Diana's wedding and Paddington bears and Beatrix Potter tea sets and Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, with the occasional matching Laura Ashley dresses.

Then when I was in the Utah Valley Youth Symphony, we went on tour to London. Oh those days... Grandad and GranNomi came along to conduct the orchestra and show me, my sister, and my mom their old haunts. How I loved walking the flower-ful mews between their flat on Exhibition Road and Harrods and the Barbican performances and wandering through Oxford.

I also grew up listening to my mother's stories of her college study abroad in Salzburg. Study abroad was always a part of my college intentions, and I chose London. 27 Palace Court. Oh those four months were packed to the brim with the most amazing, life-changing, eye-opening opportunities--certainly the best undergrad decision I ever made. From running in Hyde Park to wandering through the Lake District to learning how to always carry a book to read in que to coming to the important realization that Trafalgar Square certainly is the heart of London--I loved it all.

When my friend Debbie and I backpacked through Europe before I moved to Arizona, we ended our journeys in London. And I loved it again. And again.

Well, friends, it's been over ten years. I've been a poor student. I let my passport expire. I've plunged my little heart into American history--particularly Mormon history, and I've never looked back. I've busy-ed myself with part-time jobs at all sorts of places and I've come to love the East Coast--New York City and now Washington, D.C. I've soaked in sun at the Outer Banks and I've run a couple of marathons. I've loved sewing quilts and aprons. I've had a very significant relationship and many great, dear friends. I've immersed myself in this stage of my life, and I haven't looked back.

Until now. After my dear little sister got married, I decided I needed to take the reins and do something really GREAT. So I did. I bought a plane ticket to London and persuaded my dear friend Janiece to come along (the persuasion part wasn't hard).

The minute I stepped off the plane at Heathrow, I felt like I was coming home. I forgot how much I love to travel. I love the new sites and sounds and smells, the interesting people and ideas and the different hustle and bustle of new places. I love the crowding plans of scheduling in all the important things to see and taste.

But I love England. It felt like it was in my blood. I loved feeling like I was in a familiar place. I had returned! I knew the tube stops and I embraced that ever-present English sans serif font. I remembered the old smells. I filled my lungs at Stonehenge with that ancient breath, and I felt the British wind and rain and occasional sunbeam on my cheek. I drank it all in.

Returning to a former life is invigorating. I remember ME. I remember my younger hopes and dreams and I remember my previous personalities and tastes and tendencies. And I embrace them. Somehow they give me the courage to continue pressing forward. I love the curves and dips in life, and I love looking back and seeing how it all fits together and ebbs and flows and returns. I have such high hopes for my future based on the adventure of my past.

More tidbits from England to come...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm Back.

That's right. I have so many blog post ideas running around in my head after a really really really great trip to England. Just got back late last night and am so tired I can't see straight. Must go to bed.

But first, a funny.

Tonight I was sitting at a Relief Society service auction--the kind where you donate homemade items and acts of service, and then you bid on each other's items based on a point system, based on how much service you've done over the past month or so. No money exchanged. Brilliant idea.
Photos courtesy of Julie's blog...

My good friend Julie was auctioning off a darling stuffed elephant she made and a homemade onesie. The perfect baby gift. I mentioned to my whole table that this was a top item and that I wanted it. The cute young girl sitting next to me looked at me and said, "Well I guess you'd better start having grandkids."
What does that mean? Is she saying something about my age? Do I look that old? I know I need highlights--in fact I had just texted an appointment five minutes before. Does she know that kids have to come before grandkids? Does she not know it would make the greatest gift? Or the greatest stash for my own kids one day?

I sat there for five minutes, trying to decide how I felt about that comment. But then I decided not to think about it. It doesn't make sense. And it's not worth getting offended over a silly little comment, ESPECIALLY at a service auction. Hello. I think I just need to go to bed.

More tomorrow. I promise.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Come Off Conqueror

This morning I woke up in a funk. The longer I stayed in my cozy warm bed, the funkier I felt. So what did I do? Inspired by my dear friend Laurel, I went running. In 28 degrees, wind chill 18.

I bundled myself up--leggings, thick pants, one short-sleeved shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, two jackets, gloves, head/face/neck wrap, hat, gloves.

Instead of being vanquished to the warmth of the gym, I battled with the wind and joined its forces. I ran up and down hills, pounding the pavement to my tunes and my own beat.

This morning's run reminded me of other very chilly morning runs--like the Snowflake Race in Central Park with Tori. I think it was windchill 4 degrees--we lathered up in vasoline as a windbreaker for our faces and braved the frigid. That's when I became a true New Yorker. Then there was the George Washington President's Day run with Jessica in Alexandria. The roads were so snowy and icy that they changed the course to do two loops on boring Eisenhower Boulevard. But we braved the ice and finished the race. Or last year's Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot with Lisa. I sort of forgot my warm(er) running clothes as I packed for Annie's wedding, and ended up buying some construction gloves at a nearby gas station (thank goodness). It was 23 degrees and we ran as fast as I can remember running. Then there was training for some marathon with Debbie and Lindsay on the Provo River Trail. I still remember those icicles in Deb and Linds's eye brows.

I've done it again and again. Sometimes I just have to put those shoes on and grab those ear warmers and hit the pavement, ready to brave the frigid. Sometimes I think it's important to understand the necessary tools, to learn how to pad and protect and shield ourselves. And to come off conqueror.