She is the ideal world-traveling companion (we've done Paris and a bit of London and Rome--next stop: Antarctica). She's a knitting dervish. She's a great audience for my cooking. She's another close friend who reads The New Yorker from cover to cover each week so that I don't have to. She relates to the kids as individuals; for years, Christian tried to get me to back off when she came over, since he knew she was really there to see him.
We have a whole lexicon of phrases that are shorthand for various memorable moments in our shared history:
"You said pie!"
"What are you saying? What do you mean?"
"Je voudrais une Crèpe Nutella et un Fanta, s'il vous plaît."
"Santa, you're scaring me."
"Those birds are stuffing themselves!"
...and so many more...
When Tess was in the NICU and I was in delivery recovery, I wished for Carmen with all my heart. She is the most gifted storyteller I've ever known personally; we never get tired of her hilarious anecdotes. I wanted her by my side to distract me from my worries and woes. She was in Cambodia on vacation then, but when she got back, she was a tremendous help.
Carmen moved to London from NYC five years ago. At the time, we thought it would be a three-year adventure, and while I didn't love the idea of her being away from us for so long, I braced myself. I'm glad I didn't know then that her trip would extend indefinitely, or I would have been tempted to throw myself into the Pit of Despair.
Unfortunately, I'm terrible at long-distance relationships. Present cares and obsessions tend to drive absent friends, however dear, from my thoughts for weeks at a time. But I haven't given up on trying to mend my ways. Having people like Carmen in my life make my efforts at improvement worthwhile.
We sat up late last night, riveted as she gave us every detail of her recent trip to Japan. Then the kids went to bed, and she and I talked knitting, politics, books, and life for a good long while--infinitely satisfying.
Carmen's presence is a gift. But to ice the figurative cake, she brought me gorgeous buttons from La Droguerie and five Green & Black's Butterscotch bars. I've been obsessed with the idea of these candy bars ever since I read Jane Brocket's ode to them, then found out they are not available in the States. Oh, the yearning. I waited all of a few minutes before breaking one open last night.
Jane's rhapsodies were in no way hyperbolic. The Butterscotch bar is a perfect realization of the ideal chocolate bar. I won't wax poetic, since most of you don't have regular access to these, either; it would be just plain mean if I did. But next time you find yourself in Merrie Olde, do yourself a favor and bring back a duffel bag full.
I wonder if you can get them in Canada; it's only a seven-hour drive....This morning, we made the Breakfast Bars from yesterday's post, substituting raspberries for blueberries--a sublime treat for sublime company.
Patrick just left to take Carmen to the airport. I hate goodbyes. Here's hoping the time will fly until our next reunion. Ciao, Cah!