âDo you live here?,â I heard him say with the lilting kind of British accent that makes you suddenly aware that you talk like a dumb hick. I ceased stuffing my daughters into their car seats like they were human-sized versions of a Jack-in-the-box and peered over the top of the car door, hoping that devastatingly charming voice did not belong to a representative from Child Protective Services.
âWeâve just moved into the house on the corner and I noticed youâve got kids about my sonâs age. Would it be alright if we popped âround sometime this weekend?â
Feeling relieved that he and his adorable 3-year old son werenât there to serve me a subpoena (I occasionally live in fear someone will prosecute me for that bag of chocolate chips my daughter accidentally shoplifted a few years ago), I immediately said yes (even hick-talking Americans like myself arenât dumb enough to turn down a play date). Although in my head it sounded something like, âThat would be splendid! How do you take your tea, good sir?â. Such was the very normal beginning of what would become a very extraordinary friendship…and then my heart broke.
Over the next nearly two years, Dan, Fiona, and their two dashing young sons, Josh and Teddy, would become those friends for whom you donât even bother tidying up the house anymore (that’s a huge compliment in my book). I would come to require that my cocktails be made by Dan exclusively because truly, nobody makes a better gin and tonic. A Friday night doesnât seem like a Friday night unless Fiona and I are sitting on the kitchen floor, celebrating the end of another week and trying to keep a pack of partially-domesticated hyenas from knocking over our beers while they chase each other around the house. And really – I think a compelling case could be made for arranged marriage with their sons and my daughters.
I would be lucky enough to have my camera by my side when Teddy took his first steps. Ever. Teddy taking his first steps isnât even the best part of this moment.
Itâs the anticipation and hope on Dan and Fiâs faces because secretly, every parent hopes that moment doesnât happen while theyâre at work or sitting in rush hour traffic. It happened on a lazy, sunny, Sunday-in-the-back-yard type of afternoon. I was fortunate to have a camera in one hand and Danâs expertly made gin and tonic in the other.
When Dan and Fiona told us they had made the gut-wrenching decision to move back to the UK this past winter, I knew we had to send them home with memorable images from a classic, colonial Virginia location. One of my favorite places: Old Town Alexandria.
Then I spent 4 weeks in a state of denial that culminated in the late night purchase of a frozen pizza, a pint of Ben and Jerryâs and a six pack of Sam Adams the evening their plane whisked them back to London.Â When three people in the check out line couldn’t resist commenting on my comfort food pyramid, I displayed remarkable restraint against unleashing the snarky retorts burning a hole in my tongue. What those well-meaning and health food-obsessed patrons didn’t understand was that my heart was broken.Â These are the faces I long to see coming around the corner every day.
On the bright side, Iâve got four beautiful reasons to renew my Passport this year. You’re officially on notice, London: The Andersons are gonna class up the joint in 2012!