Invitations had come in through the pub phone, one while I was sipping my Adnams the evening before and taking notes about my little adventures on my iPad.
I slipped behind the bar to see who it was. “Tassie here.” “Tassie, so good to hear from you!” Of course I had spent days before the trip to England trying to track this little blond curly-haired agile girl down–her family our next-door neighbors in the village. What did she look like, now? “I’ll pick you up at the pub round 11:00,” she said with her clipped, crisp English accent. “We’ll go have coffee at my house in Snape. You can see my studio. Then we’ll drive to Aldeburgh so you can see Mum.”
I was excited to see Tassie, to see her art, to see her mother Diana–a favorite person to my whole family, and to hear some memories of my family from them. My friend, Ann, and her husband Tiggy had also come through with an invitation to spent the night with them at their farm in Stowmarket, which is not that far from Aldeburgh. So with somewhat mixed feelings, I made the arrangements to leave Walberswick a day early. Had I really seen everything and done everything I wanted to do here?
After dinner that night, I walked up the main street a ways, then down a side street to check out Grandmother and Anna Freud’s house. My footsteps were slow; I sort of dragged them along, like I did as a kid. The end of the lane was unfamiliar because what was once one large property is now divided into two, one new house standing where their garden used to be. I spent a moment staring into painful memories, these two spinsterish ladies who had–in a way–provided Walberswick, at the same time they had–in a way–taken my father away by claiming him for themselves. No wonder, I wanted to avoid them as a kid.
Yes, I thought, I was just about ready to leave Walberswick, its simple obvious joys; its complex hidden jabs, after one more night…to spend some hours in new places with old friends.