February 16th 1933
Charles Evans was born, my Dad. He could have been eighty today. I imagine he would have taken Mum to Portugal. They would have bought his favorite palmier pastry for breakfast and then walked to a store to buy something, anything, just to celebrate.
He loved the sun, to sit somewhere warm, to wander through markets and to see his family happy.
If men are to protect, provide and profess, he did all three without loud acclaim.
He was the man who taught me through action, the most about the social classes. He gave me the admiration and respect that I have for hard work. He gave me the ability to laugh and inspired the joy I have for the theater. He gave me long dresses to wear for special occasions and was my very first dance partner.
I felt like a princess sometimes.
February 16th 1973
My family moved from Poplar, East London to Blackheath, South East London. Huge difference, though only 4 miles apart, according to Google. Those two towns are like unsuccessfully spreading old tar onto freshly baked bread. Poplar was cement while Blackheath breathed green.
On the day I was at a friends house, while Dad went with the movers and Mum waited at the old house. All she had with her, was my brother, a step ladder, a decanter of brandy (which is funny because my parents never drank) and a jar of pickled onions. The moving van broke down and Dad helped to push it across the heath which is no mean feat on a cold day. As Dads return was delayed and Mum had no idea why - she admits to having a swig from the decanter and a couple of pickled onions! When we were all eventually inside our new home, no doubt Mum and Dad pretty worn out, my brother and I promptly flooded the bathroom which we treated as a swimming pool because we had never seen a real bathroom before. That went down well! Nothing though could alter our wonder of that home. I remember smelling velvet curtains for the first time, looking at glass doors that folded and gazing at a jeweled magical beauty that I would learn was called a chandelier.
I felt like a princess.
February 16th 2002
I held back tears as I hugged Mum and took my emigration flight to the USA. It felt, actually it was, incredibly bold, brave and intensely romantic. Heading to a country I had always loved, moving to a man that became the love of my life and a land where I would automatically gain blond shining hair, athletic legs and good teeth. It still surprises me that doesn't happen automatically.
To avoid a public goodbye, I had ordered a taxi to the airport. I remember waving at my Mum on her tiny doorstep and my dear friend Lorna, and my Godson standing next to her. I was nervous, sad, hopeful, excited. A kaleidoscope of thoughts.
There had been an accident on the motorway and the journey took an extra two hours. Eventually, looking at the departure boards, I realized I had been dropped at the wrong terminal. If you have been to Heathrow, you know being in the right terminal equals a mini marathon to get to your boarding gate. Usually I had three hours to perform the airport shuffle, now I had forty minutes.
Towing suitcases and running in gorgeous high heeled boots (I wanted the full cinema arrival at Boston Logan) an airport official came to my rescue. I was swiftly upgraded to first class and was soon sitting UPSTAIRS on a plane with a glass of champagne and my coat hanging up.
I felt like a queen.
February 16th 2013
I smile at all of those memories, and the ones I have forgotten that occurred on this special date.
Today I am in my new apartment for one, surrounded by things that are familiar and things that a price tag still hangs upon. Some boxes remain unpacked, just like all that is ahead of me. With snow falling outside, I appreciate my view of trees, nature, reminders of renewal and life. This morning, I had connected my home phone and actually spoken to my Mum rather than email alone. I enjoyed laughing with her as she reminded me of the pickled onion story. My dear friend Sheryl has sent a surprise package of food for my freezer and my adorable cat Max, became stuck between the wall and the washing machine. I retrieved him with a doormat, which his claws clung to as I pulled him out. Genius.
Tomorrow I have plans which include another dear friend and theater. My passion - the theater.
So all is tender yet well for me this February 16th. New beginnings, a step forward even if it's slight, even when it's reluctant or sad.
I am learning to look at it, as not leaving behind, because you are always moving forward.
I am a queen in training.