This overhead light in a London cafe is bigger than a hula hoop. Sitting at the cafe earlier this week, I wanted to be anywhere with a hula hoop, rather than dreading surgery later that afternoon. After a tense day - with my husband trying to distract me by running errands and going to a bookshop to buy a friend's new book - we arrived at the hospital in Chelsea. I expressed my concerns to the doctor, who examined me, then recommended we postpone the surgery. He performed a biopsy to determine if the pre-cancerous area (identified in December) may have spread. So we're awaiting lab results to reschedule my third surgery in four years, trying to keep "pre" from turning into cancer. The key is vigilance, so schedule regular checkups with your gynecologist, ladies!
Sorry to disappoint, but I took only four photos the entire trip. The Moulin Rouge-inspired lamp was in a hardware store window on High Street Kensington. The photo below is at the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras Station, with the sign upside down - a bit like my week has been!
On the train home, I read Elizabeth Berg's The Pull of the Moon, which is about Nan, a 50ish woman taking a road trip, while trying to make sense of her life. Every day she writes letters to her husband. Some of the character's observations ring true for many women:
"It is a case of you (men) feeling that you deserve things; that they are there for you and it is something women seem to struggle with, almost without exception and I don't know why. I don't know where your sense of entitlement comes from. Well, yes I do. It comes from the way you were raised, from everyone telling you, one way or another, that yours is the earth to inherit. That's true... and you know it...I'm not angry. I'm just wondering and wondering and wondering. All our lives we hand it over... Well maybe I am a little angry. But it's not at you. It's more of a class action suit type thing."
That "class action" idea made me smile. Then Nan buys all the fixings for a huge turkey dinner, only to get to her rented cottage and discover the turkey won't fit in the oven. For a moment, she feels sorry for herself. Then she goes elsewhere and buys food that "tasted wonderful and it occurred to me that that's what I wanted in the first place, I was just too shy to tell myself and so the universe had to sigh and shake its head and help me out, which it always will do, provided we let it. This is something I have such a hard time remembering how to believe."
And another passage: "...When you learn to turn from the mirror, when you look up from your hands, you have a chance to see a garden truly, because you are not in your own way."
Meanwhile, seated opposite me on the train is a slender, elegant woman, maybe ten years younger than I. I have brought white chocolate chip cookies, which taste homemade. David had breakfast, but I hadn't eaten, as we had been busy checking out of the hotel, getting the tube to the train, etc. Of course, the woman starts eating a banana - no fattening cookies for her. I console myself that though she may have chosen fruit over a cookie, her skin looks considerably older than mine. As we approach Paris, she goes to the train's snack bar and returns with a huge bag of junk food, which she devours! Memo to self: Give up cookies and pre-conceived notions.