Written Words – Vignettes from a Royal Return

The passenger side door in the van no longer opens.

Some might consider this a problem. A detriment to any number of activities. Definitely dates — I mean, how can I be chivalrous if I can’t even open the passenger door?

These are the things I think about.

But then again — perhaps being chivalrous in your parents’ mini-van isn’t exactly possible anyway.

Have the date climb in from the driver’s side? Sit in the back, limo style? Do the awkward get in and hammer at the door until it decides to open? While praying it does?

And if that set of options seems grim — turning on the radio in DC makes things even worse…

“Excuse me?”


“Are you ready to order?”

I blink once. “Uh, give me a second.”

This is happening more and more often since I got back. Three years, more or less, in England.

But now I’m back, and not used to the extensive American menus. Or waiters who actually wanted to take your order. Or too much of anything, to be honest.

The worst is parking lots. That sudden moment of panic, when I have no idea where the cars are coming from. Left – right. Left- right.

The left-right thing never gets me when I’m thinking about the thing I’m doing. It’s only when I’m looking for a parking lot that I’ll lose track of the other vehicles. Or when I’m thinking about what to do for dinner that I walk on the left side of the sidewalk.

“Only,” but I’m begin to think that the panic, the drifting, is always there, just under the surface.

“A burger, I guess.”

They don’t have those in the UK. At least, not real ones.

The text message said, “I’m back home for a few weeks,” but he knew that was more lie than true. Home being the relative concept. When I want to be more accurate, I refer to it as my parents’ home. And it’s wonderful. Just not mine — as I rediscover every time I walk into mass at St. Rose and the only people I know are the parents of my friends.

The confusing bit is that there is no home. No roots. No anchor. And increasingly, no people.

There is very little in any given location to come back to.

In a couple of spots some memories. In Philadelphia, another life that it’s not clear I’m prepared (or interested) to jump into.


“aww I guess that’s life- everyones moving out! I just moved back but hopefully ill be gone soon like you.”

I didn’t mean to make it sound that bad.

Traveling Europe helped me solve one of the mysteries of the Universe.

There are a couple of stereotypes that drift back across the atlantic. The bad British food (more accurately bland), the tight European clothes (or, as I now call them, “trendy”), and the lack of showers taken by all citizens across the continent.

That last one, it turns out, is relatively easy to explain:

Bad showers are miserable – old cities make for bad water pressure – and European cities are old.

Really — that simple.


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