We’re going back. It’s time. It will have been 35 years since we last set foot on that little corner of the world.
When Steve and I were first married, he had just joined the Air Force and we lived a few months in San Antonio, Texas while he was in training. However, his initial assignment landed us in Lakenheath, England for the first two years of our marriage.
We were a bit shell shocked to say the least. Steve preceded me over the pond to look for a place to live. A stranger in a strange land, he was motivated to get me there quickly so he jumped at the first opportunity for housing. Our first abode was a flat at 6 Rous Road, Newmarket, England, above an old antique store called Jemima Godfry. Our landlady’s name was Mrs. Lanham and she jumped straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. She was rather rotund, layered in sweaters, and missing a few teeth, but extremely jovial. She called us “the young American couple”. We wore that label proudly. We would walk to her house a few doors away to pay our rent each week and visit a spell. Her house looked and smelled like an antique shop as well.
Our flat was…..interesting. It was 250 years old…literally…250 years old. It was older than the country of our birth. Perhaps even Dickens himself once lived there…who knows. We had two uneven floors to call our own. We had to pass the basement doorway on our way up. It was terrifying for reasons we could never quite identify and we never EVER ventured down there. I am quite sure that we expected to find skeletons …or worse. We would run quickly past that door on our way up to our part of the building. There was no central heat and it had cracks in the walls where we could feel a regular wintery breeze in all seasons. The tiny kitchen had a gas stove that threatened to either asphyxiate us or explode every time I used it. There was a doll sized refrigerator that would hold at most 3 items and one teeny tiny ice tray that would produce 6 small rationed cubes per day. We were not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
We didn’t have much money, but we found great joy in being together and exploring. We learned very quickly that we are indeed two countries separated by a common language. We traveled a good bit on Steve’s days off and found lovely little tea rooms, age worn pubs, magnificent cathedrals, medieval castles… the stuff of Shakespeare, fairy tales and nursery rhymes combined ; many that had been penned in the very places we stood.
We are going back…. in search of that young American couple that started their togetherness and dreams in this far away country. At the time, we were just living our lives never truly understanding the impact these days would have on our future. However, we have long since credited the stability and longevity of our marriage to those years in this place, far flung from family and friends. It was there that we learned to rely on each other, mend fences quickly, and we two became one in heart and spirit. It was there that we officially became grown ups. It was there that we welcomed our first child into the world and began our journey on the road to the blessings and privilege of parenting.
We are going back to pay homage to our beginnings, to find our memories, pull them out, dust them off and celebrate them once again, ever so thankful that this was part of our story.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~ Robert Brault