Friendship, Essex & a Gift from a Cat


I am a social person and it is not hard for me to meet people or engage with strangers. I am socially gifted, yet I have a small group of selected friends. I write about my life openly and am humbled by how many people not only read about my search for ways to keep the faith, but are invested in it. I live my life out loud but hold few close. My friend Victoria is part of my inner circle. I love, respect, and trust her.

We met years ago through someone I was dating and instantly connected. Over the years we've developed a real friendship. She has transcended friendship and become family. Victoria is a remarkable mother, supportive sister, loving daughter, impressive teacher, loyal friend, and wonderful wife. Our friendship matters to me and is made even more special by the fact we don’t speak the same language.

Victoria is English. More specifically she is an Essex girl, which means I only understand about every fourth word she says. She talks so fast her words run together, which means I only understand every twentieth word. She repeats things endlessly for me. Bless her. Anyone who thinks England and America speak the same language has never spent time in Essex. This is not English. It is “Exlish”.

I have been staying with Victoria and her family for weeks and I still don't understand Exlish. The truth is I will probably never understand what these people are talking about. I'm amazed half the time they even understand each other. I love Jenny and her family. They have embraced me and made the last six weeks fly by and frankly bearable. It is very hard to be away from home for such a long time.

They have treated me with extraordinary kindness. Jenny’s three sons are wonderful human beings. They are like my nephews and I drive them crazy in the same way I drive my own son crazy. Victoria’s husband could restore even the most jaded woman’s faith that good men exist. I have commuted 90 minutes to work every morning and 90 minutes home at night while staying with Jenny and her family.

I wouldn't have made it through the past couple months without having stayed here. I would've been alone in a hotel in London instead of a home full of love and noise and laughter. I have loved every minute I have been in this house with these wonderful people. Until today. Today, for about 45 minutes, I wished I was not here, really wanted to leave, and cowered on the floor of the kitchen.

Victoria and the family are away this weekend so I'm housesitting with my beloved Abbie the dog and handsome Henry the cat. When I returned from shopping today, I discovered a gift from Henry. He clearly loves me because he brought me a mouse. A little grey mouse with its head chomped off was left in the middle of the kitchen. I started screaming and Henry came in to watch me accept his gift.

I about lost my mind. I could not look at the mouse, could not look at Henry, and could not figure out a way to get the murdered creature out of the kitchen. It took me almost an hour to get up the courage to get the poor thing up off the kitchen floor and into the trash. It was truly disgusting and heartbreaking. When I finally threw him out I felt bad to have tossed him into the garbage, so I said a little prayer.

I stood over the garbage praying for a mouse. That would never happen if I was alone in a hotel. Turns out Henry is a murderer, but he loves me, so I appreciate his disgusting gesture. I am lucky to know this family and blessed to be in their home, even though it is a crime scene. I am trying to learn Exlish, checking my bed for gifts from Henry, counting days until I hug my son, and keeping the faith.

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