I always joke about the British Invasion on my Facebook status when my friend Zoë arrives from the United Kingdom. She visits every 18 months or so, when there’s an offer on airfare (her words — I would just say “sale”) and she spends roughly two weeks hanging out with my family — including my three young children. And let me tell you, if you don’t have kids, hanging out with other people’s kids quickly loses its charm.
Anyway, Zoë always brings Britishy things with her — Swiss chocolate (not the bland stuff we have in the States, also not British I realize, but whatever) English tea, a myriad of gifts (one year I got a real Turkish pashmina, my daughter received a tartan holiday dress, my eldest son got a Paddington Bear book and poems by A.A Milne), brownies (a delicious recipe that we could not recreate in my American kitchen for some reason), and just her bright spirit.
I met Zoë in the summer of 2003 in Spain. My best friend and I decided to do a one-month intensive advanced language program in Salamanca and Zoë was our flatmate. Funny story that embarrasses her — when she found out that the apartment, which was already housing three girls, was going to receive two more females — from America no less — Zoë went to the language school office begging them to send us to another apartment. Why? She was afraid we’d be (her words now): “two American b^tches.” Turns out, my best friend and I are really rather lovely, and Zoë easily admitted she’d been wrong about us.
In 2004, Zoë and I traveled to Scotland. And the year after that, she came to visit me in Hoboken, sharing my tiny 320 square foot apartment. The year after that, she came back for my wedding. And she’s roughly returned to visit several more times over the course of our friendship. In fact, she’s likely to pop in for a visit at the end of July as she travels to my area on business.
Zoë brightens my home the moment she arrives. And my kids adore her. If we hear a British accent on television, my eldest will say, “She sounds like Zoë.” Sometimes, he’ll remember English vocabulary, say torch instead of a flashlight.
I’m very blessed to have this friendship. Many people have maintained less, and we have an ocean between us. I’m hoping to cross the Pond again one day so we can do the pop culture tour we always talk about — visiting all of Jane Austen’s places, seeing where Downton Abbey was filmed, and returning to Scotland for Harry Potter-y things. In the interim, I am eternally grateful Zoë visits me. This British Invasion, like the Beatles, brings joy to America.