It's been a great week. I miss my family a ton, but it has been SO wonderful to be here in the UK, especially in my PhD town (which I will confess is in Wales) spending time attending some theory modules and also talking about my dissertation with my supervisors. I don't get too many chances to talk about my topic (my husband, a math/engineer guy, is tired of feigning interest, I think), and it's been ten years since I finished my MA, so it's fantastic to spend so much time talking about my topic and other ideas related to my field. Plus, my supervisors rock.
And I have to say, I just love Wales. Granted, this is only my second visit and I haven't seen a LOT of it, but it's a beautiful place, and I love listening to the language, which many people speak. It's a bilingual nation; everything (signs, menus, etc.) is in both English and Welsh. I do not speak Welsh, so I find myself in social situations during which I have no idea what people are saying, but that is an interesting experience in itself, disorienting in a good way (partly because one knows it's temporary). And the language sounds beautiful (even though on paper it looks absolutely impenetrable!).
Today, as I waited for the taxi that would take me from campus back to my hotel (it was raining and dark, so I didn't want to walk), I felt sad that I would not be back on campus for a while. Tomorrow, after I get an amazing lunch at my favorite charcuterie, I will take the train back to London. It is nice to feel a bit sad about leaving since during my previous visit, I had so much anxiety about being so far away from my children that I was unsettled and didn't thoroughly enjoy the trip. In fact, I felt very apprehensive about future trips. This trip, however, has been much different. I have missed the family but have not been in the grip of anxiety. I have enjoyed myself and the experiences in ways that allow me to look forward to (rather than dreading) the next visit. I imagine this feeling will persist as long as there are no severe hang ups on my journey back to the States.
Now, I just need to decide how I will spend Sunday in London (thanks for the suggestions!), and I'm sure I will start to get more and more excited about the reunion with my family, especially my amazing and adorable kids, at the airport. Shall we take bets on whether or not I will weep? If you'd like to improve your odds, I can tell you that last week I wept at my son's parent-teacher conference (because of my pride that he got high marks for how hard he works in kindergarten). I wept as I imagined his earnest little self cutting, drawing, and carefully writing letters as he holds his pencil gripped in his fist. It was very embarrassing.
Now it's time for me to enjoy my hotel room dinner, during my last evening in Wales. Perhaps I should be out on the town, but I don't want to spend more money, and I don't feel like going out alone on a cold night to a pub. But I have some leftover cheese, apples, and chutney purchased earlier in the week, and this afternoon I knicked some leftover bread from todays' lunch buffet. Add to that my Spanish wine and my dark chocolate? A feast.
P.S. Here is a clip of children singing the National Anthem of Wales (and the Welsh word for Wales is Cymru--pronounced sort of like "COOM-ree"), followed by the English translation.
The National Anthem in English
"Land of My Fathers"
The land of my fathers, the land of my choice,
The land in which poets and minstrels rejoice;
The land whose stern warriors were true to the core,
While bleeding for freedom of yore.
Wales! Wales! fav'rite land of Wales!
While sea her wall, may naught befall
To mar the old language of Wales.
Old mountainous Cambria, the Eden of bards,
Each hill and each valley, excite my regards;
To the ears of her patriots how charming still seems
The music that flows in her streams.
My country tho' crushed by a hostile array,
The language of Cambria lives out to this day;
The muse has eluded the traitors' foul knives,
The harp of my country survives