Lisa had a day off the same day I had. We decided to spend some time together without following a schedule. When you are with the right person you don`t need elaborate plans.
It was our first day out even though we know each other for over four months. She started by being my work mate and ended up being my friend.
My day began with a walk on the Budleigh Salterton`s beach even though was raining and windy. On the horizon, the sunlight looked like a wavy curtain over the sea. I looked amazed the entire spectacle of light and water while thanking the Universe for the wonderful place I am living in.
I don`t know when the time went by and I remembered that I need to get to the beauty salon before 9 o`clock.
Fiona opened the door with a big smile. She got the room ready to pamper me. The entire hour I was in and out of dreams.
When I was done and twice as beautiful, I called Lisa. It was still raining. I waited for her in a pharmacy, looking for a anklet for my new pain. Lisa was fast; she was parked close by.
She put in my frozen hands her hot cup of coffee. Was my half. We do that when we work as a team, spoiling our partner with a little piece of cake, a biscuit, a slice of apple.
She was happy that we can drive around for a few hours with no purpose, just be together, relax and have fun, without talking about work. With a naughty look she told me I will get to see The Bicton Gardens. “You fit right to that place, believe me! I wanted to take you there for a long time.”
I would`ve been the right fit if that day was a sunny autumn one, but the rain was very determined to pour. As much as I was able to see from the parking lot left a good impression on me: Mother Nature was wearing interesting shades, from yellow to brown and from the lightest green to the darkest.
I was enchanted! Lisa visited the gardens in the summer, and now she was trying to imagine next summer, with the two of us in it, carrying picnic baskets, laying on the blankets, looking at the trees, listening to the birds… I smiled imagining the same thing. “A nice and simple dream of which I will personally take care” I said to myself, looking at her happy face, listening to the increasingly amount of words that left her little mouth, describing that day.
The next stop was in front of A la Ronde – “a cute little house” she added. Unfortunately it was closed but we put it on our “must see” list for next time. It was a 18th century 16 sided house.
As soon as we were back on the road, Lisa remembered she knows another place that I need to see. She stopped the car in a parking lot that surrounded a big store-like building and she kept on asking me where is the entrance. The parking lot was full. When we got inside I was so impressed that I felt the need to share it with someone, so I looked around, I saw an employee stacking the shelves and I told him “You have a very nice store!” He smiled and said a very sincere “Thank you!”
It was a “posh”store (a word the English use for something that`s higher than the normal standard), with a wide variety of products: food, drinks, fruits, veggies, etc. The way they were arranged caught my eye (their marketing level was good!). I usually go shopping like Speedy Gonzales, but in this store I stopped, admired and read all the labels. They had more wings that accommodate a gift shop, a toy store, a food court and a cafeteria.
The scent of fresh cooked food, coffee and hot croissants made my senses go haywire.
I didn`t feel the time passing by and, at the end of this visit, I felt like I was in a different world. What made me come back was Lisa, giggling every time she found something else to admire and was eager to show them to me, like a little kid that goes shopping for the first time with his mom.
I bought some things for Lisa and myself, and, before we left, I looked back one last time. My eyes met the eyes of the employee I saw when we got in. I wished him a wonderful day and while I was turning my head, I heard him say: ”Can I offer you a free cabbage?”
The air froze! I was trying to determine if I heard right, while trying to find a quick explanation for his offer (typically feminine 🙂 ). He saw my puzzled face and he quickly added that they had it since yesterday and was not very fresh. Since my timing was off, I heard Lisa answering in my place: ”Of course she`ll take it, thank you!”
The man came up to me, happy and smiling like I won the award for the best customer ever, and he handed me out the cabbage. My head was spinning so the only thing that came out of my mouth was: ”Can I kiss you?” His answer: two big arms, coming towards me in a hug. He cuddled me so strong, that I missed the oncoming breath.
He was around 50 years old, nice grey hair, big as a bear, cute and all a smile. I thanked him again for the gift and we left. He remained there, like a statue, watching us. Until we got to the car Lisa drove me crazy with her theories and her laughter (in a good way, of course 🙂 ).
I gave her the cabbage and no, it was not from yesterday. It still had drops of water on its leaves. Lisa said he just wanted to give me something, anything, and the only thing he had, at that moment, in his hands, was the cabbage (he might`ve, as well, hold the keys from a Mitsubishi Galant from 2003 🙂 ).
I was watching Lisa playing the detective, explaining the “Cabbage Affair” in ten thousand ways. She was so happy, she had her mouth up to her ears. I had it, too. She is more beautiful when she`s laughing. The entire trip I heard slight variations of the same theme, the final conclusion was that we have to go back there soon.
The store is actually Darts Farm Shopping Village, located in Topsham, Exeter. I looked for it on the internet and it`s bigger than we thought. At least I know why it`s so expensive: they get their products from the farms around it so everything they sell is bio.
Our driving adventure stopped at the hospital. Lisa had an appointment for her blood analyzes. It was my first time in an English hospital. I was impressed by the way it looked: had the interior design I had in mind every time I went in one of the hospitals from Bucharest.
It looked more like a kindergarten: warm and relaxing colors on the walls, a billboard full of information, little tables full of toys, books and games, lots of chairs, the staff kind and smiling, like we were in a travel agency. Even the patients, mostly old, were smiling and chatty.
At 12.20 straight they invited Lisa in one of the offices. I followed because I promised her I will hold her hand 🙂 . I tried to volunteer my own blood, but the nurse refused me with a smile. Lisa`s face went white in a matter of seconds, her feet went numb but she regained her strength when we got to the parking lot. As soon as she saw the cabbage she started joking again.
It stopped raining and the sun found a way to pierce the clouds. We drove towards the end of the beach, the favorite spot of everyone in town. We sat in the car silent, hypnotized by the waves washing on the shore. I opened the window and along with the relaxing sound of waves came the strong salty algae smell. From the radio, Consoul Trainin`”Take me to infinity” was filling up the atmosphere.
I was present in that moment, enjoying it with every cell, having the clear feeling that I am exactly where I am suppose to be. There is a limited number of feelings that are important to a human being. The feeling of belonging is one of them.
It took us a while to stop daydreaming. Lisa had to go to her mom`s house, to help her cook dinner. Her brother was coming over with his family, too.
We thanked each other for that day, so simple but so wonderful, and we refused to make any plans for the future. We knew, in our case, they will not pan out the way we say. Deciding today for tomorrow will give the best results.
I got home with a smile still hanging on my face, I put on some music and I just dived into my cuddly bed. I kept staring at the ceiling for a long time, unable to move. I was happy! My solar plexus was on fire, giving me the sensations of light, warmth, calm, well being. I don`t know if I read or heard somewhere, but we have the same feeling when we hold a small, furry animal in our arms.
I missed that sensation… The rift I caused between myself and my loved ones by leaving the country, all the tears we shed, made me, for a while, think of myself as being a selfish little creature. Maybe that`s why my beginning on the UK soil was so difficult.
I cannot look back, it would be hell for me to relive the first month here. The mighty Universe was always watching me closely. I couldn`t feel our connection, I was in too much pain, but IT found ways to prove me I am still under ITS protection. There were little things, but my attention was always awake and there was no way I could miss them: a little dog determined to hug me and lick my teary face; a crow ready to talk to me from person to … crow 🙂 ; a handful of kids eager to invade my space like the Ottoman Empire, more interested to be around me than having fun at the close by fair; lots and lots of smiles and “hello”-s from simple passerby… all of those were signs that I am not alone in this big world.
Now I see it. And these people, The Brits, won`t stop amaze me with their charm …