Emily has turned 22 and we have been planning a day together since Christmas and on Monday this week we pulled it off.
I headed down the motorway to Leicester and we spent the day doing all the things we love together. Leicester is a thriving city and two universities give it a very young feel. They have ‘lanes’ going off the city centre, just like Brighton, and the little shops up there were tailor made for us girls. We ‘oohhed and aahhed’ over paintings, glasswork, pottery and crafty gifts. We sat in a wonderful deli having lunch and caught up with our news. It felt like we were in Italy. A local wool shop gave us new knitting ideas and projects and the vintage and secondhand furniture shops are a treasure trove of fun.
Em took me to a place called ‘Ocean Commotion’ and some of her childhood memories floated up while we looked in all the tanks. The marvelous colours of the little fish and the gentle burble of the air in the tanks took us to another world for a while. Em remembered when she was little and we used to take her to a garden centre with a special place full of fish tanks. She loved those trips. I remembered two goldfish her Dad won at a fun fair years ago. ‘Gordon and Herbet’ lived with us for quite a while in the big glass bowl I found in a junk shop.
Magic moments float up as I think back to Monday. As the sun set (somewhere high up above, because it tipped down with rain all day) there were little twinkly lights that came on outside the shops. One place was covered in them right up the front from the display window to the roof three stories above. In another there was a studio above a gallery that had us both feeling a longing to get up there and paint. We found a cosy Irish pub and sat and nattered while I sewed a popper onto Em’s coat that kept flapping in the wind. The butterfly umbrella my Mum gifted Em was in use all day, but the weather did nothing to dull our shine.
We had a great time in a restaurant Em had discovered for our dinner. It offered a world buffet and I needed her guidance on several occasions as I looked at food I did not recognise. The staff were great and caught our fun mood and we left there with many good wishes and paper hats on our heads.
As we said ‘au revoir’ to each other Em put a huge bag of clothes, that she no longer wears, in my hand and I have already worn a spangly top that was nestling in there. She also discovered a lovely skirt and scarf in a charity shop for the new work I am doing on platform. She is one canny and thoughtful shopper.
Em is in her final year at Uni and has a 10,000 word dissertation before her in the next few months. We shared memories of the degree choices she had before her just a few short years ago, because she chose the unexpected. She made the best choice for her and I applaud her courage in following her heart, as she is flying with it. She has carved a lovely life out for herself in Leicester and has got out and about exploring and found all sorts of places. Her new friendships there have brought blessings forth and she has discovered much about herself.
Life flows and things rarely go to plan, as our children grow up, and in my case a marriage ends. Emily is a priceless gift from my marriage and life’s gifts continue to flow in the magic moments we have together.