My best friend Vicky is moving to the US, and the very thought of it makes my heart hurt.
We’ve borne witness to each others lives for years; the high and lows, the scrapes and rollecoasters. She poured mugs of wine and martinis through my years in the dating field, before breathing a quiet but audible sigh of relief when my now-husband rode into view on the horizon.
She even married us two years later, delivering a beautiful ceremony with such grace and gravitas that a number of our elderly relatives still believe that being a vicar is her actual day job (they didn’t see her later that night, weaving tipsily across the hotel lawn, bottle of champagne in hand, singing without inhibition, or they might have experienced some doubt).
When Harry was borne she came to stay regularly, sitting through endless episodes of Ice Road Truckers and The Greatest Catch at 3am because I was up feeding Harry and she figured she could sleep when she’s dead and that friendship matters more. Friends like that you don’t let go of easily.
So now Vicky begins her next big adventure Stateside, and we are counting down the days together with slightly wobbly smiles. Philadelphia beckons her, and having signed the lease on an apartment, it feels very real. It even has a bedroom for me (for all guests, in fact, but I am pretending it is just for me).
This weekend I’ve been making a farewell package for Vic, inspired in part by this lovely tutorial from The House That Lars Built on making folding travel maps using gift wrap.
I found a sheet of Philadelphia giftwrap here
…and followed the tutorial’s instructions to fold it up concertina-style, then covered two sheets of greyboard with a piece of this pretty paper. I glued the map inside the boards, and created this fold open and close guide to the city…
Inside the folder, I slipped an envelope of photos of us all to cheer her up when she’s homesick, and some washi tape to stick them to the walls whilst the apartment takes shape.
And a scattering of these happy thoughts to open when needed, because there will be moments when this awfully big adventure just feels awfully big, and these will help.
We also included city guides downloaded from the web, and restaurant recommendations from local bloggers. And Harry’s contribution too was crucial; a picture of the two of them heading off in a rocket, because Philadelphia is about as far as the moon when you are 6 (and also if you have inherited your mother’s sense of geography, which is not the best).
We bought two sheets of the map paper, and I’ve glued the second one to a large sheet of cardstock for Harry, so that we can mark up where Vicky’s apartment is and think about her in her new neighbourhood.
Because anything that makes the world feel a little bit smaller has to be a good thing.
Have a great week, when it comes!