Dear London

although sometimes its too cold for ice cream

Some things never change.

Dear London,

This past week has been an interesting one. I’ve been referring to it as being in ‘leaving-purgatory’. With the knowledge that I’ll soon be gone, I am neither here nor there. I will be sad to leave, of course, but having known that this day would come I did my best to not waste a second since I got back in October. I’ve made more friends, explored more new places, and spent more time walking that I ever though was possible in two and a half months. It has been pretty wonderful.

Sure we didn’t always agree on everything.

You were appalled when I brought a milkshake from one restaurant into another, even though I still intended on ordering food from said second restaurant. You think military time is easier, while I continue to find this preposterous.  What I considered to be the second floor you insisted was the first. You said trainers. I said sneakers. You said trousers. I said pants. You said pants. I said underwear. Sometimes things got a little confusing, but we always made it work.

Over the last (not consecutive) thirteen months I’ve come to appreciate your uniqueness. No other city shares such an immense love of fire doors, royal families and public drunkenness. No other city is so fearful of eye contact or so confused by that large burning mass that occasionally appears in the sky. I’ll never quite get the need to have five or more different types of solid milk chocolate in one vending machine, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

You’ve brought out some characteristics I never knew I had. I could probably join a circus with my acrobatic balancing ability learned on the top decks of your buses. I’ll always appreciate a good cup of tea, and I’ll always despise slow walking tourists and pigeons.

No matter where I go, I’ll always be a little bit of a Londoner.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Cheers,

Eliza

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Forgiving Our Parents For Doing Their Very Best

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Disclaimer: I make the following prediction based upon nearly every first child I have met, not on anyone in particular (seriously).

I’d like to diagnose a condition I’ve seen in a number of children, in varying degrees, over the last ten years. This condition is an emotional hang up that presents in eldest children. The parents of these children imparted upon them seemingly unrealistic expectations, and a tough love kind of parenting that was very absent from the parenting of later siblings. The resulting hang up is a very delicate emotional balance of resentment tinged with injustice, a stressfully overwhelming desire to succeed, and a secret deep seated want for approval. All of this is usually aimed at one parent, and that parent does not understand the situation. From their perspective, they did the best that they could with the knowledge they had to work with. Only one thing will change this.

What will this be?

As the twenty-something eldest children of the world approach being thirty-something and start having children (for those who haven’t already) I have a prediction. A great epiphany will occur in tandem for those driven, intelligent, over achievers who have been molded in the likeness of their mothers and fathers since day one. This epiphany will not occur right away, probably not for a few years, or at least until new baby #1 begins to talk back. Following a particularly harrowing temper tantrum or four-year-old’s quarter-life-crisis, said epiphany will go something like this: “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing my best,” followed by the realization, “my mother and father had no idea what they were doing either.”

Best-case scenario, this realization will allow these eldest children to forgive the wrongs they feel have been done to them by their parents. It will not suddenly be OK for their parents to have bribed, punished or guilted them into doing things, but maybe they will understand that they really did those things with only the best intentions at heart.

On the flip side, I hope that these parents will understand why their children pushed them away, and if given the opportunity, they will work on forming a new relationship with that child. Hopefully these parents will be wise enough to not push their child to be the parents they weren’t, lest they restart a vicious cycle.

I’m not trying to make a broad generalization about all parents or all eldest children. I’m just trying to say that at the end of the day you should love your parents for doing their best with what was available to them.

Let us hope we will someday do the same.

Adventures of a Teenage SUV Driver

but actually....

Nothing like window cleaning to start your day.

There’s nothing quite like being a five-foot-six white girl from Upstate New York driving a Yukon XL Denali. This scenario has often resulted in one of two exchanges.

Exchange #1:

Carwash attendant: “Don’t you think that car is just a little bit too big for you?”

Me: “Yeah maybe just a little….” (Cue my best fake smile as I attempt to realign the wheels of the beast in the carwash tracks, while silently praying I hadn’t broken anything.)

Exchange #2:

Classmate: “I thought you loved the earth Eliza…”

Me: No comment. (Really wasn’t any point explaining that my parents hadn’t gone for the “let’s sell the SUV and lease me a Prius” idea.)

I should probably take a moment to say that I did fully appreciate that my parents had provided my siblings and I with access to a vehicle. It may not have been my first choice, but I did come to appreciate the on-road camaraderie I experienced with the other soccer moms and hustlers of Upstate NY. We shared a special bond in our love for leather captain’s chairs, spending upwards of ten minutes standing outside in the winter while pumping gas, and the ability to bring an entourage of up to seven friends anywhere.

I would also like to make a case for listing “park an SUV” under the skill section of my resume, because let me tell you, it IS a skill. For the first five (or so) months my parking strategy consisted of pulling into a spot as far away from other cars as possible, making a phone call, and hurrying away from my car without looking back. There was usually a 50/50 chance that I was parked in the lines, and I was never curious to find out who had witnessed my grand entrance.

Luckily I’ve only been in one car accident. Knock on wood. Unluckily it went something like this:

On the morning of my seventeenth birthday party I headed out to the Party Warehouse. It was pouring out, so I donned a raincoat and my mother’s too-small-for-me rain boots over my party dress. I made a right hand turn into the Party Warehouse parking lot. Then I made a sharp left hand turn into a parking space. Only instead of being satisfied with making it into the space I apparently got a little overzealous with my pressure on the gas. Before I knew what had happened I sped up a small hill, into a tiny fence, and on top of the front of a small car. My shock was matched only by the expression on the face of the FedEx worker who had just watched the entire thing happen. I put the Denali in reverse and backed off the car I had just casually driven on.  Soaking wet and sobbing I walked into the Lumber office that the parking lot belonged to. Through that awful hiccupy kind of crying I explained to the secretary what had happened. It turned out that the car belonged to a young man not that much older than me. It was his first day, and the car belonged to his father. I had dented the hood of his car in a pretty serious way.

I. Was. Mortified.

While my mother took care of the insurance information (thank you Mom) the secretary tried to comfort me. “Oh don’t worry dear, it’s not that bad,” she said sympathetically, “when I was about your age I was driving one cold and icy night… and… I hit an old man and he fell down and hit his head, but he was fine!”

Not quite what I would have offered in terms of words of comfort, but hey, sometimes you just have to appreciate what you’re given.

She's a pro

Sheba take the wheel.