We started to ask the artist a million questions, we couldn't help ourselves! Irma, the artist, is from Argentina and has been making them for years. She said when she arrived in London she was sitting at a park one day, worried and had no idea how she was going to pay her rent. Irma looked up and leaves started falling around her, it was her sign and the little people were born.
Lucy (@lucysalgadoart on Instagram) wanted to show Irma her little people creations and she looked at each picture with so much interest and kindness. I WAS DYING inside. I think my mother heart was about to burst out of my chest because these are the exact kinds of experiences you hope/pray for when you are exploring the world with your kids- but you don't know how they will happen or what it will look like exactly. It was just really sweet, for all of us.
Irma suggested that she and Lucy do something together, and that we should exchange information. Lucy's eyes lit up so wide and big. Doing art with a fellow artist around the world? Yes please!!! We had to leave to go find some cash (which was it's own debacle but I will save you for the sake of this lovely story) but when we returned, Irma hugged the girls and we snapped a picture together.
Minutes later after we left I turned and said to Lucy, "Maybe we can be friends with Irma!" And my kid, already 100 light years ahead of me said, "In my opinion, we already are."
Yes, yes we are.
High from our experience and tired from the crowd, we finally decided on some food and retreated to quiet place to eat...but then the girls were done. I was SO not done. I met some young chefs making crazy delicious banana desert concoctions (called The Dirty Banana) and chatted about their new business for a bit... Dessert bought me some time but it was clear everyone wanted to go, so we went.
Up to this point, Jorge did all the navigation. I told him I felt like the Von Trap family, with Captain Von Trap leading us through the Alps, except in our case, the tube. You don't have to think too much, you just go where Jorgie tells you to go- tube, connecting lines, up these stairs , get on this bus- and he magically (and very smoothly) gets you there. My partner does this like breathing, I never looked at one single map.
This sounds great, no? Except I probably shoulda downloaded that app he mentioned AND looked at one map BEFORE we parted. ...but thank god for google. While I am so nervous in these situations, I also LOVE conquering my fear and the challenge. So after a bit of wrangling, and double, double checking (and conferring with Josiah who has his father's sense of direction) I got us on the right tube and took us on a lovely jaunt through Green Park to Buckingham Palace. The only problem was we could not find Jorge and Jack. After an hour of hilarious texting, "I am right here in front of the gates, where ARE you?!!", we figured out WE WERE AT THE WRONG PALACE.
We said Kensington, NOT Buckingham!! ....so at first I was all annoyed until I realized it was MY FAULT...in all my "I didn't upload the right tube app" shame and confusion, I missed the palace info. So then I was all "I am SO sorry!!!!" And Salgado was ever so patient. ...and now I had another opportunity to navigate- the bus system this time.
I felt strangely proud and was totally getting the hang of being Captain Von Trap for a bit. When we finally found Jorge and Jack at Kensington, it started to rain ....and the giant trip wall rose up out of the ground. We lost so much time, it was cold, the kids were tired....and the melt down began, mine included.
We had spent the first couple days doing fun/light/local things, thinking we would do a sweep of the cultural sites on the last day- but with the late start, the navigation mishap and then rain... It sank in. We would NOT be seeing the rest. Kids were whining for souvenirs and crying because their feet hurt and generally pissy about it all and I was thinking- WE ARE IN LONDON PEOPLE!!! Half way across the world, at these amazing places!!!! COME ON!
....and I instantly felt terrible that I hadn't thought this through better, and that we spent so much time on the cultural/local stuff and had not seen all the educational things and now I have difficult kids that just want stuff and aren't appreciating all that is here and why am I so intense about EVERYTHING, it's FINE and on and on in my head, you may know how this spiral goes.
So then *I* was sullen and pissy while we walked home in the rain, and disappointed in myself and my family....because sometimes you just are. World travel or no world travel.
But thank goodness for mundane jobs like walking to the market and figuring out what to have for dinner because it is required and gives you time to sort things out in your head, reframe, get perspective ....or rather think terrible thoughts and buy ice cream. ...and somewhere in all there (along with having the most even partner ever to listen to your ranting) I kind of realized this is how life and travel ARE. You are not immune to your own humanity because you are on an adventure- it only heightens it probably...which is why even more grace is required ...for everyone.
So after a weepy dinner and acknowledgement of all the feelings for everyone, rest was true grace and the best medicine. Sleep, it's always sleep.