By Nancy N. Roy
One of the more amazing opportunities of my life was when I was just a young girl of 8-years old, or so, and I lived in England with my family. My Dad was in the Air Force and was stationed near a huge airbase just a 45-minute train ride from downtown London.
We were stationed there for three years. My sisters and I started elementary school in the little village of High Wycombe. I can still remember the exact path and almost the number of steps between our house and the elementary school as we walked to school every day.
Then, more than 25-years later, Chuck and I met in London – he came in from an engineering project in Saudi Arabia and I had my sister care for our 18-month old daughter back in Louisiana.
We spent two-weeks in the “The Old Smoke” enjoying everything of interest to us. Piccadilly Circus, Soho, The Tower, Big Ben, Hyde Park, Buckingham, and so much more. All of downtown London was amazing. Except Chuck did not particularly care for the food.
We had “jellie-deels” on the recommendation of the waiter at a small pub one night. We had no idea that it was a plate of jellied eels! Horrible to see and smell but so much worse to eat!
The premier experience for me was the opportunity to return to the home where we lived back in 1958. A much smaller than I remember homestead that could have been featured in a tour guide or the face of a postcard. Charming, and so typical of the English countryside. I told Chuck of the times we had there and of how much I appreciated the opportunity to live in a mostly foreign country.
While we were there, all those years back, I showed Chuck my playground where I played with my first boyfriend, an 8-year old redheaded kid whose name I can’t remember. I showed him the ice cream parlor in the heart of the town, the school grounds of my first through third grades of school. It was an intensely emotional time of sharing and reenacting the days of my youth.
Currently, I am in London with my daughter and my two grandchildren. Elizabeth is working remotely and will spend the entire summer in England as a “horizon expanding” experience for the kiddos. I am here as a volunteer nanny, watching the youngsters during the day, a little cooking and cleaning of our two-bedroom flat, but mostly selecting the activities for the evenings and weekends of my stay.
Next weekend, I have scheduled a train ride to return to the little hamlet of High Wycombe and I will again retrace the footsteps of my childhood only, this time, with my child and her children. I am excited to share with them the flood of memories and emotions I recall from a time when I was their age.
I will take them to the city square and buy them an ice cream as my mom did for me. I will show them the house we lived in and the window of my old bedroom. I will tell them the stories of the elementary school I attended as we walk the old school playground. I will share with them the sights and sounds of the familiar places and retell the stories that were important to me.
I am certain that it will, once again, feel like coming home. In the weeks to come I will share with you our experiences all the time understanding that you can return home again, if only for a little while.