A couple months ago, I wrote a post about my Dutch surrogate grandpa and here I am again with another story, this time about my British surrogate grandpa. 😉
On a rainy day, after I met up with my cousin for lunch I was off solo exploring central London. I didn’t exactly have an umbrella, but mercy mercy for the most part the rain stopped when I was under the grand skies or I found coverage in random stores down Covent Garden. A little trick I found helpful to stay warm in shiverly (shoutout to Christine) cold weather is to duck into super cute and warm stores to get some heat!! In a sense, you’re helping their biz by showing your interest and just a couple minutes makes all the difference in enduring the cold. Also, you might find some gifts for yo homies (as I did since it was Christmas season and all dem glam ornaments were out–oooh).
T’anyways, my semi-wandering landed me at a souvenir shop where I bought 3 pencils with London symbols ( like the flag, palace guard, and telephone booth) on it because SCHOOL NECESSITIES. Although my pencil sharpener broke so I have yet to use them, DM me if you have one I can borrow please. 😀
After my little purchase, I further wandered to the main part of Covent Garden, located right in front of St. Paul’s Church.
It was there that I spent a good few hours enraptured by people, sights, smells, and song!
I wasn’t particularly interested in buying anything, which is what Covent Garden essentially is, but I had incredible fun just soaking in the vibe of the place.
I was blessed to catch a quartet perform in the courtyard, playing lively songs like “The Can-Can” as they danced to the claps of the audience. I, along with an amass of passerbys became engaged with the musicians and their music, lining the railing on the second floor and the tables of the restaurant below to listen in.
From elementary to high school, I was part of my school orchestra and went to an incredible music camp every summer, so hearing the declarative music sent a warm flood of touching feelz to my heart. As my music instructor (Mr. Meyers!!) always said, “Share the US in mUSic!” Music powerfully involves more than one.
And my proof lies in what happened after the *show* ended and the musicians packed up their cases.
As people started to go on their way I stayed a little longer just to observe the musicians leave and allow myself to conclude the special moment thinking about the joys of being part of it.
I was smiling from ear tip to ear tip when I turned to my right to catch the smile of a grandpa right by me. Ah, those shared stranger smiles. I was about to go on my way, when he opened his mouth and started speaking, sharing with me how he thought it was so lovely that we could hear those live performers!! Music brought us together. We exchanged similar sentiments, going back and forth in friendly chatter.
Then, oooh things got good and I got a personal little backstory about Covent Garden delivered to my sponge brain to soak up.
He told me that Covent Garden actually used to be a fruit and vegetable market. Then casually he was like, “Yeah, when I was 16 I used to work here and it looks so different now!”As we talked, he pointed to the black and white photos lined against the walls, referencing the people in the pictures that he knew. Very nonchalantly he gestured at a picture of one man in a suit and spoke about how he was basically not a super fine character guy if you know what I mean. (⊙_◎)
Minutes turned into an hour or so, providing me the privilege to enter into his life and learn about his experiences, the daughter and grandchildren he was going to go visit, and his weekly routine walking to different sites in the city.
Then, he said something that stuck with me; something incredibly simple that we’ve all heard, but knowing the context of his life, it made it far more impactful.
Reflecting back on his memories at Covent Garden he said, “When you’re 16, you don’t think you’ll be 71!”
And at that moment I was like TRUE!! Well actually I just nodded and probably looked at him with a “ah i see” look. But lowkey he did not know how far those words reached.
I’ve always been one that is super mindful of time who wants to ensure everything I do has a value that I won’t regret. In eighth grade I even wrote a poem titled “Time” that spoke about the limited life we have and all the things going on in the world that add to a sense of urgency.
But again, that age old message, wrapped up and given to me in a new way. My British surrogate grandpa, in November 2016 was 71 years of age, but to him, he was 16 and working at the fruit market just yesterday.
This encounter, along with many other events, remind me that it’s worth it to live freely and not by obligation. It’s worth it to give out goodnight hugs. It’s worth it to sacrifice a little of your future to endure mindfully in the present. It’s worth it do what you actually desire to do and be unafraid of not meeting the varying representations of who you are to others.
That’s not to say that life just rids itself of necessary responsibilities and we can all go skydiving everyday screaming as we go down “I’M ALIVE!!!” But it means living before time passes you by. We have life secure in our hands and that is the most incredible gift ever, if we just hold on to our purpose. It’s worth it.
And thanks to my British surrogate grandpa, I added a lesson and niiiice moment to my story of life! We walked together preparing to part our separate ways, as he gave me advice about which bus to catch and I wished him a fine time with his family.
I watched him make his way to St. Paul’s Church where he likes to go from time to time to “just sit,”and thanked God for that refreshing encounter. I may never see him again, but for a meaningful moment, he was in my life.
And I was a part of his.
Peace & Potaters,