About halfway through our time here our good friends the Kruckenbergs came to visit. They’re such good friends that the moment they heard we were headed to London they booked their tickets (in fact, I’m pretty sure they booked theirs before we booked ours). Our children have grown up together, spent so much time together that they are almost siblings. Heidi has been my mother friend (as Emmeline would say) through thick and thin and has been my beacon as I’ve grown into motherhood. Mike is one of Jeff’s closest friends, they’ve had all kinds of adventures together. Needless to say, we were all counting down the days until they arrived. Every time I’d think of it I’d get all giddy inside. When they actually did come I had to pinch myself to make sure it was really real. We met up with them outside of the theatre for Stomp. I wish I had had a video rolling because the reunion was awesome. The kids all ran to each other through a little alleyway and embraced. I was too busy being excited to see Heidi that I didn’t think about capturing that moment. It’s one of those ones that kind of burned itself into my brain. I don’t think I’ll forget it, even with my horrid memory.
Stomp was fantastic. Heidi and I sat a row in front of Charlie, Ezra and Saul and I’m not sure what was more entertaining to watch, the amazing percussionists on stage or our three boys faces filled with delight. They were moving to the beats, snickering a the funny bits, holding on to each other when there was something super cool going on.
When we said goodbye that night Charlie said good by with a hug and a kiss to Saul’s coat. I think Charlie has been starving for these boys, these brothers. The next day we met up in the city and headed to a playground at Corom Fields. The kids loved running wild and immediately all got immersed in a big complex game where somehow the adults were their adversaries and they ran for cover whenever we tried to talk or (heaven forbid) take a picture of them. I’m not sure about the particulars of the game (they were very secretive about the whole thing) but one of the main components had to do with Elderly Unicorns. The adults didn’t mind the command to stay out of it – what’s better than sitting and talking in the middle of London with old friends. Saul had a special delivery for Charlie from his kindergarten class. I love his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Elliott. She has been so good at keeping in touch with Charlie and I know it means so much to him to feel like he hasn’t fallen off the face of the planet. Good teachers are just the best.After playing for a while we detected some dark clouds and made a run for it to the tube station. The kids were still immersed in their game and ran wildly away from me the minute I tried to snap a photo. The rain caught the tail end of our sprint, which makes me happy. It burned that memory into me too.
We had a giant sleep over that night. The kids showed off all their stuff. The boys played Legos, the girls played some kind of game with Pet Shops. We ate good Indian Food and chatted. It felt good having our house full of old friends.
The next morning Heidi and I went for a run through the woods. Heidi is my running partner in Boston and I have so missed running with her and our friend Erica. Almost every time I run through the woods here I wish they were with me. I think about what we’d talk about, what they’d help me work through, what we would laugh at. It was so nice to go on that run with her. And now, when I go without her she’s sunken into my world there, my runs feel less lonely. And then we took the kids into the woods too. And they filled those woods full of new memories. I didn’t think I could like the woods more than I did, but having memories of the Kruckenbergs laced through them makes them even more beloved. We had a nice lunch and lots of playing (and photographing) in the cricket pitch before we sent them on their way back into London. These pictures are meant to replicate one that Heidi took of our boys a few years ago. I need to find the original and link to it. They are growing so big. Hazel considers Jo to be her best friend, still. They are so far apart in age, but get along so well. This is a great tribute to Johanna who somehow hasn’t gotten too cool for Hazel yet. I love that girl. And I’m pretty sure Emmeline wishes with all her heart that Heidi was her mother. She has loved Heidi from the minute she laid eyes on her. And I don’t blame her. I’m not sure anyone understands Emmeline the way Heidi does. And Peter was quite taken with Mike. They became fast friends.
The next day we met up in the afternoon and went to the Science Museum in South Kensington. This is my kids favorite museum in London and they were dying to show it to the Kruckenbergs. They ran around all giddy to show them all the parts of the exhibits that they love. Above they are working together to make a water rocket go off. After the museum we made our way up to the adventure playground in Holland Park. Of all the playground we’ve been to (and we’ve been to a lot of great ones) this is the one that my kids have judged to be the best. The kids all had an awesome time while we (again) sat and talked. I just can’t get enough of that.
We went back to the Kruckenbergs rented flat for a little pizza party and more play before we finally had to pry ourselves away. Parting was sad (especially Charlie who really came up for air while they were here), but it helps that we’ll see them again before too long.
Thank you Krucks for spending so much of your vacation with us. Memories of your time here now weave through our every day and it makes us feel like a part of you is still here. And that’s a happy thing.