Being Present

Back in London having gained at least four pounds. As I’m 5’4, that’s saying something. I’ve never eaten so much – when I’m not even hungry – in my life. But what the heck is the point of not trying absolutely everything when one is in the heart of Italy???? I think you can eat and pray and love without leaving your borgo!

Mom is with me so my final days combine a mixed agenda. Boys grasping onto their final play dates and goodbyes, knowing that they’ll be back at xmas but wanting those last connections as well. Youngest son longs for his best mate and their friendship is just that…the best. I’ve never quite seen such a strong relationship so young in boys and as this boy is moving to Cape Town and my son thinks we’re going there next week, lateral thinker he is, I am actually considering the visit!

As for me, I had my own important connection to make before we left. It was to a friend who is dying from an awful and rare disease and therefore living with the knowledge of the imminent countdown. His bravery, and his wife’s undeniable and completely remarkable strength, made Husband and I weep. And love. He has chosen to live in the moment, this moment right now, directly in front of him, and cherish and honor those in his life. If ever there was a lesson about being present and real, this was it. I thank him hugely for the honesty and light he gave us that day and always.

Leaving England is never easy for me. I walk around the house after packing all the clothes wondering what else I will invariably need in LA. I have two sets of every important document for all of us and I travel with random bills with reference numbers that may be useful if something goes wrong with the house. This time we are trying to rent our house for a year so I’m having to walk away knowing that everything might get put into storage and therefore get lost or at best disheveled when we return. I caught my little one upset and lying on his bed. He didn’t want anyone to touch his toys and didn’t want strangers renting our house. He also didn’t want to go back to school as first grade is scary and he missed our dog. His thoughts were introspective and he lay there, looking at the ceiling, waiting for me to make him feel better.

I lay with him for awhile. “No one will touch your things,” I lied. “And it’ll be nice to have people breathing life into our lonely house whilst we are away,” I lied again. “And as for school, first grade is indeed hard, but think about how many things you’ll be able to read once you get the hang of it…like recipes on how to make candy chocolate caramel marshmallow brownies,” (thought I’d throw in every sweet I could think of) I said. He eventually smiled. It’s tough leaving on all of us.

There are two Jennifers living inside of me. One of them is pure-bred Californian; the other a European being. I belong in both places which is why the juggle of that struggle is worth it. What I am reinforcing in my boys I don’t know, other than an appreciation for a greater world and a sense of identity in both cultures. Where will they end up living? For now, I am as present as I possibly can be in my home in Richmond, England with thoughts of LA playing a distant tune.

About Jennifer

Jennifer is from Beverly Hills and has lived between London and LA since 1994. She's been a writer for over 20 years in the world of film, tv, travel and magazines and has been a class rep eight times and counting...
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