Thankfully, the major part of the family who did travel over had the opportunity to say goodbye, so we have closure before it is too late, I guess. She is ready to go - in fact we had a scare on Monday but she rallied quickly. Her body is still hanging on, and her mouth is back on turbo. Still, she told me wonderful things, I held her hands and kissed her face. That will be my last memory of her I think. Granny smiling up at me from the bed, calling me her pretty little Baby (as I always will be no matter what age), telling me all her lovely prayers for me, and the softness of her skin when I kissed her face.
I am currently having a moment where I can't believe I once lived there. In Texas!
Whilst I was there, I ate seafood galore, queso with salsa and chili and corn chips (made with love by my cousin Charlene), chicken fried steak with mashed potato and white gravy (twice)...but no real Tex Mex or IHOP pancakes.
We went shopping at the Vietnamese and Indian markets and had our fill of exotic fruits and tasty produce. And need I mention the awesome clothes shopping?*
I also bonded with cousins I hadn't spent that much time with before, and others who were sort of too young until recently. It was also great being with aunts and uncles I have always loved.
We cousins enjoyed a big meal together, and a few days later everyone who wanted (14 of us) got together for a seafood feast.
On the way back to London on Thursday evening, we flew out ahead of some destructive storm systems sweeping in from Oklahoma and there was a lot of turbulence. It is tornado season there. But we left behind temps in the low 20s C (low 70s F) and came to 9 C (upper 40s F) so I have felt cold all day with the grey dampness, tiredness, jet lag, and ill-timed hunger. I think I slept for less than an hour on the unusually long 9 hour flight. However, I did watch The Devil Wears Prada and then borrowed the book from my aunt when we got to her place.
I am no fan of cricket but I do keep hearing about the cricket matches being played in Georgetown, Guyana, the [somewhat faded] "Garden City of the Caribbean". So I went to the BBC Venue Guide for the England team tour of the West Indies. Three paragraphs in the middle were written in exactly this order:
Despite its beauty, don't be fooled into lowering your security precautions whilst you're in the city.
Never walk the streets of the city at night and always avoid the Tiger Bay area just west of Main Street and Albouystown south of the centre.
One thing you definitely should do in the city is join what appears to be most of Georgetown and take an early evening stroll on the seawall as the sun sets.
Do you detect a contradiction here?
Some pics from the past week:
Cousins Dinner - The Grill at The Galleria, Dallas
Clockwise L to R: Evadney and her longtime partner Stan (both personal trainers; they have kids). Nick (grew up in the UK and moved to Tx over 10 years ago, and now sounds halfway like a Texan). Charlene (Evadney's younger sister, very Texan though born in Boston). Elizabeth (one of my British cousins and my godmother). Me. Amber (on her last year of high school and wants to be a kinesiologist). Rachel (wife of Charlene and Evadney's brother Eddie, who is not there - he went out with the uncles). Sabrina (a bank manager at the WTC in the first bombing, worked nearby on 9/11, and now lives safely in Florida).
1994 Lamborghini Diablo:
Charlene's neighbour is an exotic car dealer who borrows the other half of her garage to store his latest acquisitions. Every couple of days there is a new surprise. This one is purple and we girl cousins got the keys and played around with it. He allows her drive them, but she wouldn't dare.
Liv (Nearly At) the Wheel:
I got in and could barely reach the pedals or the wheel. It was awkward fun getting the door open, though.
Gran's daughters stayed in her apartment; Elizabeth, being a director and all, got to stay in her own luxurious hotel room with adjustable air beds; I stayed with Charlene, though Liz said I could have stayed with her the whole time.
Charlene works for a financial software company, has a big new SUV, parked at her own two bedroom/two bathroom home in a quiet neighbourhood. She redecorated the place herself in really cozy velvets and suedes in warm neutrals with wood and wrought iron furniture in a sort of Spanish/ranch/prairie style. She has endless rooms and doors and storage closets, a deck built for entertaining with a bar, refrigerator, benches, jacuzzi, gazebo...very cute. It would have felt average to us coming from our place in The Woodlands, but after living in London, it looked like luxury. We never really liked the town they all live in, and yet after landing and finding myself appalled at the mess of everything in England on the drive from the airport, I found myself reevaluating my entire reasoning for continuing the struggle here...
Coincidentally, in the car this morning we were listening to the stories of other expats who, returning to England from Tanzania, Australia or the US, are never really settled in either place as they go back and forth over the years. I know what they mean. It almost makes you want to give up both and try another place, as if three makes a balance.
P.S. If you want to know how so many relatives ended up in Tx, I would be glad to share the story.
* Great brands for less than half the price you would pay in Europe.