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Jewish Journal

Updates and Observations from London

by Ilana Angel

May 22, 2014 | 11:28 am

Today I sat in a Costa Coffee in London while my son was at a university interview next door.  When I walked with him to the theater, I put my hand on the door to go in and he stopped me. He said he was cool going in on his own and I was immediately transported to his first day of kindergarten when he wanted to go in by himself.  It took all my strength to not cry. I held myself together, told him to break a leg, and he went in. I did not kiss him, or hug him, just wished him well and watched him go. When he was out of sight I started to cry.

I am very proud of my son. He has wanted to be an actor since he was 7 years old and he is making it happen. He went to a performing arts middle school, then one of the best performing arts high schools in the country, and is now at his final audition for one of the best acting schools in the world. He has always loved England and has wanted to attend university here for a long time. He thought it through and is on a mission to make it happen. He is very talented and I have no doubt he will be successful. He is a remarkable young man.

He had a lot of options in the US when selecting a college, but he wanted to be in this magnificent city. He loves the weather, loves the people, and is looking forward to being the one with an accent and impressing the English beauties with his charm and American swagger. I hope he is accepted and we will know tomorrow. Either way, this has been an amazing trip with my boy that we will never forget. We have seen and done things together for the first time that have made London our place forever. It would have made my beloved English Dad so very happy.

We have seen the sights, toured the city, and met one of my amazing Twitter followers, who is now my friend, for tea. We also went to Manchester to visit family. We saw my Great Aunt Jean who is 95 and a firecracker. She loved my Dad, as he did her, and being with her was very special. She spoke of him in a way that made me proud, and miss him so much it hurt. We saw cousins I haven’t seen in over 22 years, and my son had never met. To see him sit and talk with his cousins, kids that he didn't know until this trip but had instant rapport with, was amazing.

It will be a little easier to have him here in London knowing my family is nearby and will watch over him. I also have amazing friends here. We’ve been staying with a lovely couple, “Sam and Peeps”, and their three kids. They’re actually related to the Englishman, which is weird I suppose, but the truth is I have no relationship or connection to the Englishman anymore, so it is not odd to be here with his family. He is now simply just a guy I used to know, but these people matter to me and we have a relationship in spite of him, not because of him.

People come and go in our lives all the time. Some stop by quickly, while others stay and share your life. In the end it was not the Englishman who was to share my life, but he was the one to reconnect me with England and lead me to the people who will actually be in my life forever. I am thankful to him for that. Not enough to invest any more time or emotion on him, but enough to be grateful that I am at this exact place at this exact time, without him. In the end I wish him well and am able to count my blessings knowing things happen for a reason.

We have avoided being caught in the rain and I assume the reason is that God doesn’t want me to walk around London with frizzy hair. The weather has been amazing and even though they called for thunderstorms in Manchester, the sun was out and the first drop of rain hit when we got on the train to return to London. It rained last night, but this morning there was sun. We have not worn coats since arriving and hopefully it will stay that way. England is amazing and London is perfect. Apart from getting honked at constantly for looking left not right before I cross the street, it is perfect. Of course it will now rain.

Speaking of rain and sun, there are a lot of orange legs in London. It would appear spray tanning is quite popular, and with the arrival of the sun, ladies are getting their tan on. Here’s the thing though, I have yet to see a good one. Perhaps it is because they are starting with such pale skin, but still, whoever is mixing spray color in London may in fact be colorblind. The goal is to be golden brown, not Halloween ready. Bless them for trying but here’s a tip for LA spray tanners: come to London and open shop because it will be a gold mine!  You're welcome.

Important to note that while England is the home of English, I cannot understand half the things people say and they are apparently speaking English. My guess is there are approximately 1394 different English accents, and I understand 3 of them. The rest might as well speak in Mandarin because it is lost on me. Don’t even get me started on the slang and phrases they use here. I am told I like to take the piss out of people, and my blogs wind people up, which is all rather odd, but fabulous, and true. It is funny to hear and I am learning.

If you walk down a street in London, ride the subway, or take a bus, you will quickly learn that English is the least spoken language here. This is a multicultural and cosmopolitan city with many immigrants from many places. This is apparent not only on public transit, but in food and clothes. This city has everything for everyone, and for the most part people are friendly and warm. It will be wonderful to come visit my son here and to hear all his stories of London when he comes home. Should he not go to school here, we will still come and visit.

English men are sexy. Even an old man with missing teeth can call you Luv and he becomes cute. From the men in suits dashing to their offices, to the thugs with shaved heads and wicked smiles, these men are hot. We have been in London for five days and I have fallen in lust at leave a dozen times, in love at least three. From the policeman on the Tower Bridge, to the salesman in Knightsbridge, to the cab driver in Knotting Hill, these men are fabulous and a girl can get swept away here. There is a real sexiness to Englishmen. Amen.

We are having the best time. We are doing a lot of walking, sightseeing, drinking tea, and having beer. Yes, my son has ordered a beer with dinner. The drinking age here is 18 and so he is enjoying himself and it is weird to watch your little kid walk up to a bar and get a drink. Not the drinking part as much as the little kid part. I remember when he was born, walked, talked, rode a bike, and had his heart broken all for the first time, so how is it that same child is now having a beer? Time flies when you’re having fun I guess, and motherhood is a blast.

My son texted me from his interview to check in and let me know it is going well. The boy who is becoming a man and wants to move across the world to pursue his dreams, still sends me messages to let me know he is okay, and that is everything. I have raised this boy right and when I say I, I mean I. This is a remarkable young man and I take full credit. Every tear, every sacrifice, every blessing, and every misstep has led us to this place, at this time, and it is magical. My son is magic and things are going his way, which fills my heart.

This has been a wonderful trip. We are celebrating my son’s high school graduation and his giant leap into his future. We have strolled through the streets of London arm in arm, had a drink together, laughed and cried at the magnitude of this time in his life, and got some real quality time together. There were no distractions, emails, or phone calls. Just a young man clearly seeing his future and not only wanting to share it with his mother, but also thanking her for getting to the place he always wanted to be. There is nothing more I could ask for.

Important to note that since starting to write this blog, it has started to rain. Not a lovely sprinkle of raindrops, but a full on torrential downpour and thunderstorm. It is refreshing and beautiful and what you expect of England, but the novelty will soon wear off and I’m sure constant rain and gloomy skies can be depressing, but not to my son. He loves it so God bless him. I wonder how long it will take for him to tell me he misses the glorious weather of Southern California and wishes he could have just five minutes of sunshine on his face.

We will be here for another three days, with tomorrow being a second audition day for school. It won’t really matter if it rains because nothing can put a damper on this trip. On Sunday we will head home to grad night, prom, and graduation. I will cry when my son walks across the stage to get his diploma. Not because I’m sad, but because I’m proud. Proud of the man he has become and the wonderful son he continues to be. My life has been an interesting one but in the end my son is everything, including the reason I am always keeping the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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