Before this weekend, we met just once before. She was living in Great Britain and my mom and I were there for a short visit. We went to dinner and enjoyed cocktails in my hotel and then I flew back to America and she returned to her travels as a nanny before heading home to Australia. I will confess that since the influx of technology, we've actually written less - who picks up a pen anymore when you have 8,000 ways of communicating via computer?
But, when Jenny sent me a Facebook message to say that she and her sister, Heather, were coming to America and wanted to visit for a day in Philly, I was overjoyed.
Heather, Jenny and I with Philly's Greatest Ambassador
When Rachel and I met them at the train on Saturday, I asked them if they had ideas of what they would like to do, or if I should be their guide. They said they definitely wanted me to guide them... but also had a few ideas of their own:
"Could we go to a Wal-Mart (ended up being Target) and a Dollar Store?"
I was soon to discover that Jenny and Heather were interested in anything uniquely American or Philadelphian...
At Reading Terminal, we ate cheesesteaks (but not with the Philly Cream Cheese Heather anticipated or the knife and fork Jenny anticipated), bought crafts from the Amish and fought our way through crowds. At the Constitution Center we discovered that Jenny does not quite yet have the answers down to become an American citizen - at least if I'm not there to whisper hints in her ear. We drank beers at Triumph and when I casually mentioned that Cosi has s'mores, they exclaimed "S'MORES ARE COMPLETELY AMERICAN! WHO VOTES FOR S'MORES?" as two arms flew up.
Over coffee and marshmallows, Ed, Rachel and I filled them in on the health care bill and they filled us in on all the ways Australian health care kicks American health care butt. Shocker.
But, we have s'mores.
At the end of our all too short visit, Jenny and Heather presented me with a bag full of gifts: a bunch of Australian animal books for Chloe (the koala book is her fave so far, with the turtle book as a close second), a huge box of chocolates to share and a fabulous koala pendant for me - which I have yet to take off. Of course, the day was a present that I'll cherish for a long time - gifts were completely unnecessary.
As I drove them back to the train station after 10 very fast hours together, I chuckled to myself as Heather sat in the backseat and sang Australian songs to Chloe to try to get her to fall asleep. Of all the songs she sang, I knew just two of them: the one we all know by Men at Work and the one about the Kookabura... it didn't occur to me until later that the reason I know the Kookabura song is from Girl Scouts - the same reason I know Jenny.
Travel safe, dear friends... and come back soon.